Hundreds of St Helens youngsters have been rushed to hospital suffering from drug poisoning and overdoses in the last three years.
The shocking figures, obtained by the St Helens Reporter under the Freedom of Information Act, suggest the situation is not getting better with an around 150 cases having been dealt with in casualty each year since 2010.
Deliberate overdoses, small children getting hold of adults’ medication, allergic reactions and youngsters’ experimenting with prescribed and banned substances are all believed to be among the reasons for children requiring hospital treatment.
And while hospital chiefs declined to reveal the precise nature of the admissions, citing patient confidentiality, nationwide accident and emergency staff report youngsters being admitted alcohol poisoning and paracetamol overdoses.
There were 163 admissions during the 2012/13 financial years, compared to 139 in 2011/12 and 150 during 2010/11.
That is a far grimer picture than the one in neighbouring Wigam where 363 young patients were admitted to hospital over the past five years.
Children of all ages have needed emergency care for overdosing on other prescription tranquillisers, anti-depressants and sedatives. And the cost to Wigan and Leigh NHS Trust.
No one from the hospital was available to comment on the overdose figures.
But a hospital trust spokeswoman said: “Medicines should always be kept out of reach or locked away in a secure place to prevent children from accessing them. In the event that an overdose is suspected, medical attention should be sought immediately.”