Dealers selling drugs on Teesside hospital wards, says surgeon

Barney Green, a surgeon at James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough, said drug dealers were coming onto hospital property to deliver drugs. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Dealers are brazenly selling drugs on hospital wards, an ITV Tyne Tees investigation has found.

Vascular Surgeon Barney Green, who deals first hand with the impact of drug-related crime on Teesside said the number of hospital admissions was rising.

Mr Green said: "What we’re seeing is one admitted every 1.4 days. This is really related to drugs trade and illicit crime.

"Drug dealers are coming to wards as well, onto hospital property to deliver drugs."

He added: "We don’t want our 12, 13, 14-year-old children to be influenced by people involved in drugs. I would make a plea to everyone who lives in our region to say we really need to work hard against this.

“It’s not just the police’s role to try and stamp out drugs. It’s all of ours."

Mr Green was speaking to ITV Tyne Tees as part of an investigation into the scale of the drugs trade on Teesside.

It follows an investigation earlier this year, which revealed how the drugs trade is the driving force behind the Teesside's high crime rate.

Cleveland Police has the third highest rate of drug offences in the country, at 4.1 per 1,000 people, with only Merseyside and Metropolitan Police having higher rates.

Helen Scourfield, a youth and family barrister, believes there should be a specialist drugs court on Teesside to deal with the issue.

Helen Scourfield said there should be a specialist drugs court on Teesside. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

But more funding is needed to tackle the problem, she added.

She said: “All of the local authorities in terms of children's services are way underfunded. Ultimately some input from local authorities at an earlier stage will save money in the long term.

"Because hopefully we’ll break this cycle and it will make a difference to the area locally, the community, the problem we have."

Cleveland Police is funding three projects to reduce drug use, drug-related deaths and crime, including funding a Barnardo's worker to divert children away from gangs.

Assistant Chief Constable of Cleveland Police Richard Baker said socioeconomic issues were behind a lot of Teesside's drug problems.

He said: "You see it on a daily basis, our officers see it, our communities see it but this is something the policing alone cannot and will not solve.

"There's a huge amount of socioeconomic issues that sits behind a lot of these problems, and that is slightly unique to Cleveland.

"We see really high levels of deprivation, low educational attainment. So we have to work with our statutory partners and our third sector partners in order to try and improve things."

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...