Drug-related mental health hospital admissions rocketing in Wigan

Wigan accidents and emergencies department
Wigan accidents and emergencies department

Hospital admissions in Wigan for patients with drug related mental health issues have increased by more than a third in the last four years.

Charities have said this shows people are more candid with doctors about substance abuse, as well as difficulty accessing rehab services.

Between April 2017 and March 2018, there were 985 admissions for mental illnesses or behaviour disorders where the main cause or a contributing factor was drugs. Wigan has one of the highest rates of admissions in England.

According to the latest NHS England figures, that is a rise of 39 per cent from four years ago, when these records began.

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.

“The reasons behind this increase will be numerous and complex.

“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 Wigan’s 985 admissions, 700 were men and 285 were women.

Drugs tended to be a contributing factor for mental health issues, rather than the main cause. There were 100 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 per cent 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 Wigan is 313 per 100,000 people, higher than the North West’s average, which is 225 per 100,000.

Mr Moffat commented: “The statistics show a significant north versus south divide. In both the North East and North West, hospital admissions in this category are 50 per cent 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. Wigan has one of the highest drug poisoning rates in England.

From April 2017 to March 2018 there were 180 admissions, a rise of 35 cases, on the previous year. Compared with four years ago there has been a six per cent decrease in hospital admissions for illegal drugs overdoses.