Number of drug deaths in Doncaster are the highest since records began

The number of people dying from drug and alcohol misuse in Doncaster is the highest since records began, new figures show.

By George Torr
Thursday, 15 August, 2019, 14:25
Stock Picture: Syringes and paraphernalia used by drug users in the West Midlands. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

New data published by the independent Office for National Statistics shows 76 people died from drug related issues between 2016 and 2018 – the highest rate since figures were first collected in 2001.

Drugs deaths in Doncaster have risen by 50 per cent since 2009 but started to fall from previous high of 70 in 2012 until the 2016/2018 figures.

Across South Yorkshire, Sheffield had the highest number of deaths with 122 but Barnsley, despite having 67 drug-related fatalities, had the highest deaths per 100,000 at 9.6.

Per head, Doncaster had 8.5 deaths per 100,000 but Scarborough came out on top across the whole of Yorkshire & Humber with 14.9.

Information obtained from UK Addiction Treatment (UKAT) also shows that Doncaster Council has cut drug and alcohol treatment spending by 27 per cent.

The Freedom of Information data reveals Doncaster Council spent £7.7 million in 2013/2014 but this fell to £5.6 million in 2018/2019.

Council bosses said the figures are ‘very much reflective of the national picture’.

But Eytan Alexander, managing director of UKAT, said it ‘cannot be a coincidence’ that reductions in treatment spend has correlated with high numbers of deaths.

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“The ONS figures are saddening but unsurprising,” he said.

“We’ve highlighted the drastic reduction in budget cuts to substance misuse services every year since 2013 and unfortunately, these figures now show the impact this is having on the most vulnerable people living across the area.

“It cannot be coincidence that as councils here slash drug and alcohol treatment budgets by £8 million over six years, the highest number of people on record lose their lives to drugs. We urge councils across Yorkshire and the Humber to invest in effective drug and alcohol services next year to avoid more loss of life.”

Dr Rupert Suckling, director of public health at Doncaster Council, said: “The figures in Doncaster are very much reflective of the national picture.

“Drug poisoning death statistics include accidental, deliberate self-poisoning and drug misuse causes. We know that the number of deaths in Doncaster from drug misuse alone are not significantly different to last year, suggesting that the increase directly relates to our ongoing mental health challenges across the borough.

“This was one of the key focuses behind our recent suicide prevention campaign ‘Another Way’.

“Like the majority of other local authorities across England, we do not have the same amount of budget available for substance misuse services due to ongoing financial pressures. However, we have worked hard to ensure that the quality of the service provided has not been reduced, and despite budget limits we currently have no waiting list across Doncaster.”