Wednesday, February 5, 2014
More people than ever before are being repeatedly admitted to west Suffolk’s under pressure emergency department after drinking or taking drugs.
New figures have revealed that last year one individual was treated 54 times at West Suffolk Hospital - more than once a week - for an alcohol-related condition.
In all, 320 people were admitted to A&E at the Hardwick Lane site on more than one occassion in 2012/2013, up 61% (121) from 2008/2009.
During the same five year period the number of people seen multiple times in a year for conditions related to drug-taking has also almost doubled, with one individual being seen a record 18 times in 2012/2013.
Health bosses last night said they were working with specialist providers to raise awareness of the harm caused by alcohol and substance abuse.
Dr Alan Murray, Suffolk County Council cabinet member for Health and Adult Care said: “While these figures show an increase in those being readmitted for drug and alcohol related issues, they only tell part of the story. Clearly we want to support people to the point where they no longer need urgent care at our accident and emergency departments, but this can be a complex process with many factors affecting each person’s recovery.”
He added: “For some time, we have worked with the health profession and specialist providers to raise awareness of the harm that can be caused by alcohol and substance misuse, and support available. With a greater overall awareness of the issue, we are seeing more people seeking help to recover, which could partly account for the increase in readmissions.”
Dr Murray said it was also necessary to put the emergency admissions in the context of other treatment taking place across Suffolk. Eight hundred people received treatment in the form of counselling, detoxification or medical and psychological interventions in 2011/12, rising to more than 850 in 2012/2013. With regard to drug treatments, 1,400 were supported in Suffolk during 2011/12, increasing slightly by 2012/2013.
Dr Murray added: “There are other contributory factors that are not clear from the figures, namely how many of these patients are already in alcohol treatment, or have a mental health diagnosis, and whether they come from all parts of the county or just the West Suffolk area.”
The publication of the figures under the Freedom of Information Act follows the opening of the Clinical Decision Unit (CDU) in December last year at West Suffolk Hospitalto deal with a ‘significant increase’ number of admissions to A&E.
During the planning stages of the CDU, documents suggested that the unit would help keep people safe while the effects of drink and drugs wore off – allowing treatment and prognosis to take place.