MP calls for action as hospital sees rise in legal high patients

Mike Hancock
Mike Hancock

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CITY MP Mike Hancock is calling for the government to be more active in dealing with legal highs.

The Portsmouth South MP has written to Minister for State, Norman Baker, about legal highs and asked what the government is doing to control the sale of them.

This comes after it was revealed that Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham has seen an increase in patients going to the A&E department after taking legal highs.

One to two of these per week were aged under 18 with the youngest patient aged just 11.

In his letters, Mr Hancock refers to the young people being fooled by people selling the legal highs.

He said: ‘I and many in my constituency – and throughout the UK – are concerned with the recent increase in the availability of these legal highs.

‘Time and again these substances are being sold openly and in public, fooling people, particularly the young, into believing that they are safe to take.

‘Just because they are legal does not mean they are without risk.’

He added: ‘I would suggest a pro-active approach from the Home Office on this issue which sets out clearly a list of offences and makes a statement that this behaviour will not be tolerated.

‘It is simply unacceptable to force police constabularies to use legislation which was introduced almost 30 years ago to tackle a different crime in order to protect the public and particularly our youth.’

Earlier this month The News reported that two dads from Portsmouth whose sons have been affected by the substances are campaigning to see so-called legal highs banned.

The hospital has seen the increase in the past 12 months and they are collecting data for exact figures.

Eliot Wilkinson, consultant in emergency medicine at Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, said: ‘We’ve noticed increasing numbers of emergency attendances in the last 12 months as a consequence of people using legal highs, often in combination with alcohol and other drugs.

‘Worryingly this has included many teenagers and children as young as 11, with several patients requiring admission to the Intensive Care Unit in a life-threatening condition. We often have no way of knowing exactly which substance is involved.

‘But the effects may last for days and cause harm to and failure of several systems of the body, including the heart, nervous system, lungs and kidneys. Not only do people who use legal highs possibly risk their lives, they place further demands on the hospital thereby potentially delaying the care of other acutely unwell patients.’