Queen Alexandra Hospital sees increase in patients taking legal highs

The accident and emergency department at Queen Alexandra Hospital
The accident and emergency department at Queen Alexandra Hospital
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Portsmouth’s main hospital has reported an increase in patients using legal highs.

Staff say one or two of people dealt with each week is under 18 and the youngest admitted was just 11-years-old.

Elliot Wilkinson, an A&E consultant, said: ‘As well as an increase in patient numbers, we have noticed younger patients also being admitted.’

He added that some patients admitted can become aggressive and need to be sedated before they can be treated.

‘Patients who come in after taking legal highs can be hard to treat,’ he said.

‘They can be agitated and paranoid and quite often, they can be aggressive.

‘That is the problem. You can not have a rational conversation with them and they cannot make a choice about their treatment.

‘Often we have to sedate them for their own safety and the safety of the staff.

‘The drugs themselves can potentially be life threatening.’

Hampshire Constabulary is promoting the message that legal doesn’t mean safe.

They are seeking to make people aware of the dangers of taking unknown substances.

A police spokesman said: ‘Generally speaking, these are substances that are not fit for human consumption.

‘Hampshire Constabulary has responded to and investigated several high profile cases of people who have become unwell or sadly died after taking such substances.

‘We want to help prevent any further incidents which is why education is vital.

‘People often have no idea what they are actually taking because the substance is not labelled correctly or consistently.’

The force, as part of a campaign to reduce harm and drug-related violence in Hampshire, has developed an education package for schools which includes information about legal psychoactive substances.

‘We want to demonstrate to them the often devastating personal, social, health and financial implications taking drugs can have on them and their loved-ones,’ the spokesman said.

The Home Affairs Select Commit-tee has praised police forces that are making use of legislation to prosecute suppliers of legal highs.