North East 'legal high' cases reaching 'worrying levels'
People taking "legal highs" in the north-east of England have reached "worrying levels", with the number of cases reaching nearly 300 in one month.
Since 1 January, 292 emergency calls have been made to the North East Ambulance Service, with 20, including one cardiac arrest, over the weekend.
Most of the cases were in the west end of Newcastle, with others in Blyth, Sunderland and Gateshead.
A spokesman said the "continuing spike" was having a "significant impact".
He said: "These so-called legal highs are not safe to use and carry a serious health risk.
"The chemicals they contain have in most cases never been used before in drugs for human consumption and these incidents in Newcastle are putting people's lives at risk."
A task force was set up by in January Northumbria Police and Newcastle City Council to crack down on the "alarming" number of cases.