Meth addicts clogging up hospital emergency departments

Stock image.
Stock image.

MORE than one in every 100 presentations at emergency departments are meth-related according to the latest statistics from the WA Health Department.

The new surveillance system introduced at seven hospitals in July 2017 show hospitals emergency departments are dealing with more than 500 meth-related attendances each month with Royal Perth Hospital copping the brunt of the issue.

Figures for the January to June 2018 period recorded 3223 meth-related ED attendances (17.8 per day), down slightly on the previous six-month period which recorded 3369 attendances (18.3 per day).

Over a third of all meth-related ED attendances were aged between 26-35, with 2361 recorded over the 12 month period.

There were 73 cases involving children aged 17 or younger.

Joondalup Health Campus had the third-highest number of meth-affected patients, recording 393 cases for the first half of 2018.

Overall the number of meth-related attendances has remained steady at 1.3 per cent.

Last year’s meth report showed the most common time for meth-affected patients to present at hospitals were on Saturdays between 5pm and 6pm followed by Sunday evenings. Just over 20 per cent re-attended an emergency department for a meth-related issue.

Aboriginal patients accounted for 20.9 per cent of meth-related ED attendances.

WA Opposition leader Mike Nahan said meth addicts were disrupting the hospital system.

“We are proposing a tough love approach with mandatory rehabilitation of meth addicts which is a system that is working in NSW and Victoria,” he said.

“First we need to build rehab facilities, take these addicts out of prisons and as part of their sentence they must go into rehab, often for significant periods of time.

“This keeps addicts off the streets, out of our hospitals and saves their lives.

“This is a growing issue and we need to do something about it.”