Self harm as a drain on the UK Health Services

The death of Amy Winehouse led to the report by James Ball and Simon Rogers in the Guardian on 24th July 2011:

The death of Amy Winehouse, widely reported as due to a suspected drug overdose, has drawn attention to drug misuse across the country. How bad are the figures?
Get the data from the English NHS. You wont get comparable data from the other regions – they deliberately choose different parameters! It is completely unclear to the profession how to significantly reduce self harm, but having GP open access on Friday afternoons, evenings and at weekends would almost certainly help. The financial help given to psychiatry is not good, but the evidence that putting more money in elsewhere would help this problem seems absent..

  Drug poisoning per 100,000 population. Fullscreen version (England only)
How bad are the drug deaths figures?Shortly after 4pm on Saturday afternoon, police discovered the body Amy Winehouse in her London home. The singer’s battles with drink and drug addictions received orders of magnitude more publicity over the last five years than her prodigious musical talent.

Police are treating Winehouse’s death as unexplained, but press reports have widely suggested the case is being treated as a suspected overdose. Whether or not that is the case, the story has drawn attention to problem drug users in England.

Each day, across England and Wales, drug use or its complications claim the lives of five people.

In 2008, the latest year for which figures are available, 1,738 people died drugs-related deaths, of whom 374 were women. Accidental overdose was the principal cause of death, account for 763 of the cases.

Winehouse was 27 years old at her death (coincidentally, so were Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Rolling Stone Brian Jones). 439 people aged 29 or under died of drugs-related causes in 2008.

Drug deaths are still on the rise: yearly deaths have increased by 19% over the last decade – equivalent to an extra 281 deaths each year…

The Guardian in May 2014 reported: Shock figures show extent of selfharm in English teenagers

and in August 2014: Self-harm by mental health patients in NHS has risen by 56%, figures show

BBC News’ Michael Buchanan 27th February 2014 reported on schoolchildren: Self-harm ‘motivated primarily by bullying’

Lauren Paxman in the Mail 2011 reported: One in 12 teenagers self-harm (but most grow out of it by their twenties)

and now today BBC news reports on the Ketamine bladder: K bladder: The UK’s secret ketamine epidemic

It’s not just the UK. European countries and the USA have similar problems, and the predominance of girls is evident. The HSCIC in USA reports Hospital statistics on teenagers: girls predominate in self-harm cases, boys in assaults

Resources: Selfharm, suicide and risk: helping people who selfharm

SelfHarm – Royal College of Psychiatrists

economic costs of selfharm – National Center for

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About Roger Burns - retired GP

I am a retired GP and medical educator. I have supported patient participation throughout my career, and my practice, St Thomas; Surgery, has had a longstanding and active Patient Participation Group (PPG). I support the idea of Community Health Councils, although I feel they should be funded at arms length from government. I have taught GP trainees for 30 years, and been a Programme Director for GP training in Pembrokeshire 20 years. I served on the Pembrokeshire LHG and LHB for a total of 10 years. I completed an MBA in 1996, and I along with most others, never had an exit interview from any job in the NHS! I completed an MBA in 1996, and was a runner up for the Adam Smith prize for economy and efficiency in government in that year. This was owing to a suggestion (St Thomas' Mutual) that practices had incentives for saving by being allowed to buy rationed out services in the following year.

1 thought on “Self harm as a drain on the UK Health Services

  1. Pingback: The effects of dishonesty, denial and the wealth divide in other systems needs to be considered in the UK | NHS reality. An NHS soapbox. Speakers' corner for the NHS.

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