A drug advisor for the Government has accused it of not caring enough about the increasing number of people dying from a heroin overdose in the UK.

As reported by Sky News the latest ONS figures show 4,859 deaths related to drug poisoning were registered in 2021 in England and Wales, equivalent to a rate of 84.4 deaths per million people.

This is 6.2% higher than the rate recorded in 2020.

Dr Emily Finch, a senior member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists who sits on the government's Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, spoke to Sky News on the subject.

She said: "I think that's one of the problems. I don't think, generally speaking, the general population do [care].

Redhill And Reigate Life: People dying from heroin overdoses has gone up from 2020 to 2021 (PA)People dying from heroin overdoses has gone up from 2020 to 2021 (PA)

"I think many people, and perhaps that's reflected in the government, don't care much and that is why they have allowed a treatment system to largely atrophy.

"Some people care, there are good reasons to care: heroin users spend a lot of time in hospital, they cost us a lot of money, some of them commit crime. Those are all good reasons why supporting them properly, getting them into high quality treatment, probably in the end would save society money."

Around half of all drug poisoning deaths registered in 2021 involved some form of opiate, with the rate likely impacted by the Covid pandemic as a large number of rough sleepers were affected.

Delays to death certificate registrations mean these deaths will span 2020-2021.

A government spokesperson said: "Our landmark drug strategy will help rebuild drug treatment and recovery services to better support people through recovery, as well as tackling the criminal supply chains which fuel illegal drug markets."