Suspected drugs deaths up in Scotland as hospital admissions fall

Press release, Scotland news
30 April 2024

Suspected deaths in Scotland have increased by 11% in the latest quarterly data.

However, drug-related hospital admissions are down by 24% in a monitoring report.

The data is contained in the quarterly Rapid Action Drug Alerts and Response (Radar) report from PHS (Public Health Scotland).

The figures for suspected drugs deaths covered the period between December and February, while the hospital admission data covered October to the end of December.

PHS’s report said the total number of suspected drug deaths during the period was 278, averaging 23 per week.

These are based on reports and observations from police attending scenes of deaths.

While this was 11% higher than the previous period, it was stable compared to the same periods in starting in December 2021 and December 2022.

Discussing the historic trend, the report said: “Between December 2021 and November 2023, the average weekly number of suspected drug deaths fluctuated considerably but remained within a range of 17 to 31 per week.”

Between October and December 2023, 1,942 drug-related hospital admissions were recorded in Scotland, 24% lower than the previous quarter.

Admissions were 26% lower than the same period in 2021 (2,438) and 7% higher than in 2022 (1,798).

Responding to the figures Dr Susanna Galea-Singer, chair of the Addictions Faculty, Royal College of Psychiatrists in Scotland, called for more ring-fenced funding to tackle drugs.

She said:

“While it’s encouraging to see hospital admissions down, the increase in drug deaths paints a very sad story because every death from addiction is a personal tragedy.

“Working on the frontline, our clinicians tell us they’d like to see more ring-fenced funding in health, social care and the third sector.

“This would increase access, choice and care for those people who so desperately need the right treatment and support.

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