St Helens has most hospital drug admissions in England, NHS reveals

Pills and a syringe Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The majority of the cases saw people treated for problems from taking opioids, such as co-codamol, codeine and tramadol

The Merseyside town of St Helens has the highest rate of hospital admissions linked to drug poisoning in England, new NHS data has revealed.

There were 95 admissions for every 100,000 people throughout the 2018-19 financial year, the figures show.

This came ahead of Middlesbrough, with 91, and Blackpool, with 80.

A spokesman for St Helens Clinical Commissioning Group suggested it could be linked to a high number of people suffering chronic illnesses.

The total number of St Helens hospital admissions with a primary diagnosis of poisoning by drug misuse over that time was 160, up on 140 admissions the previous year.

Nationally, there were 18,053 admissions, up 6% from 17,031 from the previous year.

The diagnoses of 9,486 of these cases was poisoning from opioids, excluding heroin and opium, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

This was followed by admissions for problems related to cannabis, sedatives and cocaine.

Poisoning by drug misuse

Hospital admissions per 100,000 population in 2018-19

Source: NHS Digital

St Helens has one of the highest levels of opioid prescriptions in the country, although there is no evidence to suggest a direct link between this and the high rate of poisonings.

A spokesman for St Helens Clinical Commissioning Group said: "In St Helens we have a high number of people who suffer from chronic illnesses and should have regular reviews of the medication they are prescribed.

"We are working closely with primary care prescribers and with our colleagues in public health to jointly tackle the reasons that result in people taking prescription medication such as opioids.

"We recommend prescribers regularly review the use of these medications."

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