THE number of hospital admissions for people who self harm is almost three times higher in the North East, according to new figures.
Data from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) has revealed that the region has almost triple the rate of self harm hospital admissions compared with London.
In the 12 months to August this year, the North East Strategic Health Authority admitted 330 cases of self harm per 100,000 of its population, compared to 114 cases per 100,000 in London SHA.
In total the region had 8,560 admissions related to self harm, including drug overdoses. This is a slight decrease on the previous 12 months when the North East admitted a total of 8,650 people to hospital.
In the last year, County Durham Primary Care Trust had the highest number of hospital admissions related to self harm, with a total of 1,535. This was closely followed by Sunderland Teaching Primary Care Trust with a figure of 1,233.
Health professionals say the high number of self harm rates is linked to the region’s problem with alcohol misuse.
Nick Holdsworth, nurse consultant at Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We know that self harming rates are linked to alcohol use.
“The results of the data do not come as a surprise but they are disappointing.
“The best ways to address the issue would be to improve the routes of mental health services into general hospitals and improve community based services for alcohol-related problems.”
Provisional figures, considering self harm admissions only, for the 12 months to August, show that self poisoning is the most likely reason for being admitted to hospital, due to the use of painkillers or prescription drugs.
Intentional self harm by an overdose on narcotic drugs or through the use of a sharp object are also reasons for admissions.
The statistics do not include people who are dealt with solely in accident and emergency, or those who may self harm but are never treated in hospital.
Nationally, the HSCIC figures show that self harm admission rates in England have risen slightly overall.
Between August 2011 and August 2012, there were 110,960 people admitted to hospital for incidents of self harm, a rise from 110,490 in the previous year.
The HSCIC said it recorded a 12% rise in the number of people aged 55 to 59 who self harmed - with 4,250 people in the age group being admitted.
“The figures show the impact of intentional self harm on our society and hospitals – where the result of somebody purposely damaging their body is so serious they need to be admitted to hospital,” said HSCIC chief executive Tim Straughan.
“The figures point towards a very clear difference in admission rates per 100,000 population for self harm in some parts of the country, with the North East of England recording triple the rate of admissions according to population size than the capital.”