Increase in 'legal high' admissions to Swindon A&E

The number of people being admitted to casualty after taking so-called "legal highs" is increasing, a Swindon consultant has warned.

Dr Charlotte Kelly said more people were being treated for the effects of the substances than for illegal drugs.

Three people a week were being admitted to the Great Western Hospital in Swindon, which had 48 cases between August and December.

Wiltshire police warned that legal highs were not necessarily safe.

Dr Kelly, who works in the accident and emergency department, said it was a "big problem".

"They are certainly providing us with a lot more work," she said. "With more classic drugs of abuse it is easier to predict what was going to happen if you took an overdose.

'Not safe'

"These drugs can cause quite significant side effects. They can go on for 24 to 48 hours."

Dr Kelly said symptoms she has seen in patients she has treated include abnormal body movements such as jerking and thrashing around, high temperatures and renal failure.

She added: "By their term they are legal and you can go on to the internet and buy them. But the problem with them is that actually the drug within the sachet as it comes is often mixed with banned substances."

A spokesman from Swindon drug advisory service, Inclusion, warned of the health risks of taking these substances. He said: "They have not been registered, nor undergone clinical trials and evaluation."

Supt Gavin Williams, from Wiltshire Police, said: "Legal highs don't mean legal and they certainly don't mean safe.

"But our intelligence is very good and we're doing all we can to stamp out the legal highs in Swindon."

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