Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Cuts Blamed for Spike in Drug Deaths

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Cuts Blamed for Spike in Drug Deaths

Article excerpt

Byline: JONATHAN WALKER Political Editor jon.walker@trinitymirror.com @jonwalker121

A SHOCKING rise in the number of people dying from drug abuse follows cuts in funding for charities which help addicts.

New official figures this week revealed the North East has the highest rate of deaths from drug abuse in the country There were 532 deaths from drug use in the region from 2014 to 2016, up from 283 deaths from 2004 to 2006, 10 years previously.

And the Office for National Statistics, the Government's official body for collecting data, warned: "The highest mortality rate from drug misuse was in the North East with 77.4 deaths per 1 million population, a 13% increase from 2015."

It means the region has the highest number of drug deaths when you take the size of the population into account.

Experts said the increase may be a result of increasingly pure cocaine coming on to the market.

But the region's MPs are concerned that funding for measures to help addicts has been cut.

North Tyneside MP Mary Glindon, co-chair of Parliament's cross-party drugs, alcohol and justice group, raised concerns in the House of Commons.

She urged Ministers to look at "the funding crisis faced by the drug and alcohol treatment sector."

Ms Glindon's concern is shared by at least 22 MPs, who signed her Commons motion.

They include Gatsehead MP Ian Mearns and Easington MP Grahame Morris.

The motion warns that "several charity providers in the drugs and alcohol sector have had to merge recently as a result of financial difficulties."

Many organisations which help drug users quit their addiction, or at least to cope with it, are depend on grants from central or local government.

They are increasingly funded through a system called "payment by results", which means the cash they receive is tied to the number of people they help.

But some MPs say this system is used to cut funding.

The Commons motion says: "Payment by results schemes are often poorly designed and used to save funds rather than drive performance. …

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