Hospital admissions figures show impact of drugs on mental health in Wakefield

Charities have said the numbers show people are more candid with doctors about substance abuse.
Charities have said the numbers show people are more candid with doctors about substance abuse.

There have been more than 500 hospital admissions in Wakefield for drug related mental health issues, figures show.

Charities have said these numbers show people are more candid with doctors about substance abuse.

Between April 2017 and March 2018, there were 550 admissions for mental illnesses or behaviour disorders where the main cause or a contributing factor was drugs.

According to the latest NHS England figures that is a drop of 12% from four years ago, the first release of this data. This is eight more admissions than last year.

Lucy Schonegevel, from Rethink Mental Illness, said: “This is yet another piece of evidence in an ever-growing list showing the pressure that NHS services are facing in treating people with mental ill health.

“We hear from our supporters about the difficulties that they face accessing services when they have a combination of mental health and drug issues.

“Services for people with mental illness, and services for people with substance misuse problems, are funded and provided by completely different organisations. Sadly, this can mean that people often fall through gaps in the system.”

Of Wakefield's 550 admissions, 365 were men and 185 were women. Drugs tended to be a contributing factor for mental health issues, rather than the main cause. There were 50 cases where they were diagnosed as the primary reason for behaviour disorders.

These figures only indicate the number of admissions, not patients. They could include one patient who has been to hospital several times over the year.

Across England, there was a 27% rise in drug related admissions over the last four years.

Steve Moffatt, of the public health charity Addaction, said the increase could be due to improved recording practices in hospitals and “a greater willingness among people in general to admit to a history of substance use”.

“These are both positive developments and we encourage anything that helps people be open and honest without fear of judgement,” he said.

“It's essential that people feel able to disclose a substance issue and ask for help.”

The rate of drug related mental health admissions in Wakefield is 171 per 100,000 people, lower than Yorkshire and the Humber's average, which is 185 per 100,000.

Mr Moffat said: "The statistics show a significant north versus south divide. In both the North East and North West, hospital admissions in this category are 50% higher than the national rate."

The figures also show the number of admissions for patients who have overdosed on illegal drugs, such as ecstasy or heroin. Wakefield has one of the highest drug poisoning rates in England.

From April 2017 to March 2018 there were 170 admissions, a rise of 61 cases, on the previous year.

Compared with four years ago there has been a 2% increase in hospital admissions for illegal drugs overdoses.