Legal Highs Putting ‘Unacceptable’ Strain On NHS

Paramedics have told Sky News they have seen a huge spike in call-outs to legal-high emergencies and that they are putting an “unacceptable” strain on the NHS.

West Midlands Ambulance Service has seen cases triple during this summer but suspects the true figure is even higher.

Paramedic Cameron McVittie told Sky News: “There are many calls where we are told it might be a legal high – they have tripled since April – but there are other calls that we get where it says ‘unconscious’ or ‘chest pains’ but the actual reason is the same – it’s another bad reaction to a legal high.

“With overdoses on cocaine or people who have lost it on cannabis I know pretty much what they will do. With the legal highs they are completely unpredictable… it is absolutely more difficult.”

There is an ever changing range of legal highs available in shops or online that contain chemical ingredients – many are marked “Not For Human Consumption”.

Former legal high Black Mamba is now a banned substance but is still responsible for many requests for help when people have been taken seriously ill.

While Sky News was filming with Mr McVittie one 20-year-old man was picked up behaving bizarrely next to a tree in a small park near Birmingham city centre.

He was unable to tell paramedics anything about who he was or what he had taken.

When he arrived at City Hospital staff immediately recognised him as someone who had become very violent in A&E the previous day having taken a legal high.

Mr McVittie said: “One minute you can treat a patient who is unconscious and you are managing an airway, the next minute they are up and trying to attack you.

“It is unacceptable that we, or hospital staff when they get to hospital, have to put up with it.”

(c) Sky News 2015