EXTREMELY violent drug users high on the drug meow meow are lashing out at frontline staff at a Swansea hospital.
Mike McCabe, accident and emergency consultant at the city’s Morriston Hospital, has revealed workers were being attacked and some had been lucky to escape serious injury as the drug made people so agitated.
He said it was not only workers at the A&E department who were at risk but those working on its wards.
Mr McCabe said he was concerned about the situation and added that those taking mephedrone, known as meow meow, were often completely unaware of their actions.
“We have had one or two near misses where staff have avoided having serious injuries,” he said.
“They are very, very difficult patients to deal with in A&E and in the intensive care ward.
“When patients do withdraw from this drug they are still agitated for a few days.
“The drug stays in the body for some time.”
He added: “The problems are not just in the A&E department but in other wards too and on other general medical wards where people are recovering from the toxic effect of the drug.”
The accident and emergency consultant said he believed the drug had changed over the last 18 months, as back then patients were more placid.
He said: “I think the drug they are taking nowadays is a different style of drug. It’s much more toxic and it makes people more violent.”
He added that the cocktail of mephedrone and alcohol was a potent mix for users.
“People should avoid drug use with alcohol as it’s so dangerous,” he said.
Meow meow has become more popular in Wales than anywhere else in Britain after being made illegal two years ago.
Mr McCabe said people were accessing the drug through online dealers.
He said in some cases there were those who had not fallen into trouble with the police in the past who were now doing so because of the drug. “Sometimes there are people who have never been in trouble with the law before who take this drug and now become violent unexpectedly,” Mr McCabe said.
“They can’t remember having caused all this violence until they find they are in a police cell. The risk is, if you take this drug you could end up being charged with a violent crime you don’t know you have done.”
Swansea-based drug agencies have been told meow meow is on sale to school children for just 10p.
Staff working for Swansea’s Substance Misuse Action Team (Smat) have previously revealed they too are seeing increasing reports of the drug being used by the people they see.
Mr McCabe said the impact of meow meow was very different compared with Class A drugs including cocaine and heroine, which could kill.
He added: “I am concerned, the key thing is the violence it inflicts on people.
“We don’t know why it’s more of a problem here but it’s also a problem in Barry and Carmarthenshire. We hope people move on and it stops the supply and they all calm down.”