WELSH drug deaths are at their highest ever levels according to a new report by Public Health Wales, with deaths from drug poisoning having increased by 78 per cent over the last 10 years.
The report also highlights that drug deaths may be increasingly occurring in people using drugs on a recreational basis, with a rise in deaths involving cocaine, amphetamine and MDMA collectively accounting for 14 per cent of drug misuse deaths. These deaths tended to occur amongst younger people in their 20’s.
In a third of all drug deaths reviewed, ‘no known contact’ was reported between the deceased and any local health, social care or criminal justice services in the 12 months prior to death.
The report recommends action to influence the current legislative approach to drugs policy in the UK, as well as a medical amnesty policy to protect people seeking medical attention relating to drug poisonings.
Drug misuse deaths, a subset of drug poisoning deaths, have increased by 52 per cent over the last decade and by 12 per cent in the last year up from 185 deaths in 2017 to 208 in 2018 – with a current rate of 72 deaths per million population. Wales has the second highest rates of drug misuse deaths in England and Wales regions.
Josie Smith, Head of Substance Misuse in Public Health Wales, said:
“Drug markets have changed and expanded over the last few years, both in terms of availability, and range of drugs, and this trend is set to continue. One of the most distressing impacts of these changes is the rise in premature deaths.
“Across Wales there are effective interventions in place to reduce premature drug deaths including specialist substance misuse services and, for opioid deaths, the provision of Take-Home Naloxone. However, expansion of the Naloxone programme will be required to ensure widespread access to this life-saving intervention. In addition it is vital that the range of people using drugs are able to make better use of services that can support them, and reduce their risk of harm and premature death.
“Given the scale of problem drug use in Wales, it is likely that every member of the population will know someone affected by, or experiencing difficulties with drugs be they illegal or prescribed, but may be unaware. Evidence is clear that seeking support early on can prevent escalation of problem use and dependency, however, fear of stigmatisation and social exclusion may be barriers to this. Consideration needs to be given to how this can be overcome in Wales to prevent future tragic deaths.”
As in previous years, opioids including heroin were involved in the just over half of drug misuse deaths reported in 2018. Poly-drug use, the use of other drugs including benzodiazepines and cocaine, was reported in 49 per cent.
In addition, there has been a more than four-fold increase in the number of deaths involving cocaine over the last five years. In 2018, cocaine was recorded in 31 of deaths, representing 15 per cent of all drug misuse deaths.
Lottery win for local neighbours
Two people in Ferryside are celebrating today after winning £1,000 each thanks to their lucky postcode.
The neighbours netted the windfall when SA17 5YP was announced as a Daily Prize winner with People’s Postcode Lottery on Wednesday 8th April 2020.
People’s Postcode Lottery ambassador Judie McCourt sent her well-wishes to the winners. She said: “Congratulations to our winners! What a great surprise for them, I hope they enjoy their winnings.”
A minimum of 32% of ticket sales goes directly to charities and players of People’s Postcode Lottery have raised over £500 million to date for thousands of good causes in Britain and beyond.
This draw was promoted by Maggie’s which has received over £16.1 million in funding from the players of People’s Postcode Lottery. Maggie’s runs a network of cancer support centres across the country. These centres bring people together to help combat the isolation and distress that often accompanies a cancer diagnosis.
Many good causes close to the winners have also benefitted from players’ support, and local charities can next apply for funding in August.
Scarlets’ grassroots clubs show community spirit in delivering vital food packages
Scarlets community clubs have been working together to help deliver vital food packages across the region.
Volunteers from grassroots clubs and WRU girls hubs across Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire have been helping take the food packages to vulnerable members of society who are self-isolating during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The clubs have teamed up with the Scarlets Community Foundation — the charity arm of the Scarlets — and Carmarthen-based food wholesaler Castell Howell, while Scarlets players Osian Knott, Kieran Hardy, Ryan Conbeer and Jac Morgan have also lent their hand to the operation.
More than 300 packages were due to be delivered on Monday and Tuesday (April 6 & April 7), with the initiative highlighting that even without any action on the field, rugby clubs remain at the heart of their community.
Scarlets Community Foundation manager Caroline Newman said: “We have been overwhelmed with the support that we have received from local clubs, the number of people prepared to volunteer to help the most vulnerable in our communities has been touching.
“People’s reasons for requesting packs have often been heart-wrenching and it really has made us appreciate what we have.
“The foundation has worked closely with Castell Howell to make sure the packages are ready to go to those whose need is greatest, managing to turn things around pretty quickly and I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone involved in making this happen, our funder, Castell Howell, all the clubs, our helpline volunteer and the foundation members.
“Great teamwork which has made me proud to be part of the fantastic community that rugby creates.”
Here are the rugby clubs and WRU girls rugby hubs taking part in the initiative
Aberaeron, Aberystwyth, Amman Utd, Ammanford, Burry Port, Betws, Bynea, Cardigan, Cefneithin, Felinfoel, Fishguard & Goodwick, Furnace Utd, Haverfordwest, Kidwelly, Llandeilo, Llandovery, Llandybie, Llanelli Wanderers, Llangennech, Llangwm, Merched Mynydd Mawr, Milford Haven, Narberth, New Dock Stars, Newcastle Emlyn, Neyland, Penybanc, Pontyates, St Clears, Stradey Sospans, Tenby Utd, Tumble, Tycroes, Whitland, Yr Hendy.
First two cases of coronavirus in Carmarthenshire confirmed
THE FIRST two cases of coronavirus have been found in Carmarthenshire, the Welsh Government announced today.
The two patients in the Carmarthenshire local authority area had recently returned together from northern Italy.
It comes as the Hywel Dda Health Board which serves the area opened two centres to test for coronavirus, one in Cardigan and one in Carmarthen.
The health board announced it had opened the testing centres to “help protect the health of our communities”, while also saying that centres could be opened in other areas across the health board.
The Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Dr Frank Atherton, confirmed that a total of nine patients in Wales had tested positive for coronavirus (COVID -19) today, bringing the total to 15.