Hospitals in the UK are being forced to deploy CCTV and separate rival gangs in their efforts to combat a nationwide drug epidemic which sees class A substances openly dealt and consumed on wards, The Independent reports. Britain’s opioid crisis is heaping pressure on both doctors and nurses, who claim patients “order their drugs like a pizza” to the ward while others meet dealers near entrances.
Across the country National Health Service (NHS) staff have found syringes stashed around hospitals, while some drug users will try to steal sharps bins containing used needles to sell the contents. Mental health trusts report using sniffer dogs to search for illegal narcotics.
The report says one nurse told how rival drug dealers at a major hospital had to be kept separate for fear there would be violence on the ward, while another doctor described the tragedy of caring for babies whose mothers were heroin addicts.
Doctors are quoted in the report as saying cuts to substance abuse services and difficulties in sourcing methadone meant patients who were dependent on drugs often had no choice but to find them from unscrupulous sources.
At North Tees and Hartlepool Foundation Trust, bosses have taken the decision to lock two wards after staff witnessed suspected drug transactions taking place. It has also shared CCTV with Cleveland Police and warned it may lock more wards. The trust said there had been an average of two drug-related incidents a month and five assaults against staff.
A spokesperson from Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals Trust said: “Substance misuse is an issue across our city, the county and the country as a whole and we have a duty of care to all our patients, no matter the reason or background. We do not tolerate any illegal activities in our hospitals and always notify the police when necessary.”
The report says the problem is particularly severe in mental health trusts where sniffer dogs are used to search for stashes of illegal drugs. A spokesperson for South West London and St George’s Mental Health Trust said its dog, Poppy, did not search patients and it was important addicts were not stigmatised. She added: “There are a small number of instances, on average between three to five, recorded per year of visitors or others bringing illegal drugs onto our site.”
[link url="https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/nhs-hospital-drugs-heroin-addicts-opiods-a9194811.html"]The Independent report[/link]