Impact of drink and drugs on health services

By Paul Ainsworth

A NEW report by the Public Health Agency has shed light on the problems caused by substance misuse in South Belfast.

The ‘Scoping Report on Drugs and Alcohol Services in Belfast’ published last week, looked at various issues surrounding the effect on health services and the public caused by those who abuse alcohol and other drugs. The PHA recommended a more “joined-up approach” to the problem, while some of their findings provided an insight into the problems facing the south of the city – where drugs remain rife.

With alcohol, the PHA, with the assistance of police data, revealed that in 2009/10, 141 incidents of anti-social behaviour in South Belfast were directly linked to alcohol, while in the Castlereagh borough 46 incidents occurred.

Meanwhile, South Belfast’s main health facility, Belfast City Hospital, saw a combined total of 419 admissions directly linked to drugs and alcohol during the same period, 338 drink-fuelled incidents, and 81 admissions of people seeking medical help after taking narcotics. However, the Royal Victoria Hospital saw the most admissions, with a total of 498.

PHA Chief Executive Eddie Rooney said: “This Scoping Report was initiated by a small number of community and statutory groups concerned about drug and alcohol issues in their communities and the need for a more Belfast-wide and coordinated approach to tackling them.

Stormont Health Minister Edwin Poots, who attended the recent report launch added: “Local need must be identified, solutions developed at the local level, and action must then be driven forward in partnership with local communities.”

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