About this release

This release by Public Health Scotland (PHS) provides the Scottish Public Health Observatory (ScotPHO) quarterly update on a number of topic areas. Of these topics, the Asthma, COPD, Diabetes, Drugs, Epilepsy and Multiple Sclerosis pages contain new data. The COVID-19 pandemic and its wider impacts has caused significant changes to the provision of healthcare services, and has had an impact on individuals’ health and their use of healthcare services. This should be taken into account when considering the data in this release.

Main points


  • In 2020/21, 49 people per 100,000 were hospitalised for asthma at least once. This figure is down from a relatively constant value of around 90 per 100,000 over the 10 years preceding the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

  • There has been a very sharp decrease in the incidence rate of COPD in 2020/21 compared to previous years. The rate has dropped from 135 in females and 134 in males per 100,000 in 2019/20 to 70 and 78 respectively in 2020/21.
  • In 2020, there was a sharp decrease in the annual mortality rate from COPD compared to 2019 for both males (13% decrease) and females (19% decrease).


  • There has been a sharp decrease in the rate of hospital admissions that included a diabetes diagnosis in 2020/21. The rate per 100,000 population has dropped from 1,247 in females and 1,785 in males in 2019/20 to 1,040 and 1,548 respectively in 2020/21.
  • The rate of deaths where diabetes was recorded as a contributory factor has increased from 123 per 100,000 in 2019 to 147 in 2020. A significant proportion of these deaths also had COVID-19 as the underlying cause or an additional contributory factor to death. Diabetes patients have an increased mortality risk from COVID-19.

Drugs – Social harm

  • In 2020/21, the Scotland rate of recorded drug offences was 64.8 crimes per 10,000 population. Local authority rates of recorded drug crimes ranged from 125.0 crimes per 10,000 population in Dunbartonshire West to 25.9 in Angus.


  • There has been a downward trend in new cases of epilepsy in recent years, with 2020/21 reporting the lowest rates in 12 years for both males and females at 29.4 new cases per 100,000 and 19.7 per 100,000 population respectively.

Multiple sclerosis

  • New cases of multiple sclerosis among females have fallen from a peak rate of 13.6 per 100,000 population in 2018/19, to 9.5 per 100,000 in 2020/21, the lowest in the time series presented (since 2007/08). The change from the previous year is driven by a decrease in incidence in those aged over 60 years old. Incidence in males has remained stable since 2009/10 at a rate of approximately 6 cases per 100,000 population, but with a decrease observed in the over 60 age group in the last four years.


The Scottish Public Health Observatory (external website) collaboration is led by PHS and includes the Glasgow Centre for Population Health, National Records of Scotland, the Medical Research Council/Chief Scientist Office Social and Public Health Sciences Unit and the Scottish Learning Disabilities Observatory.

The aim of the collaboration is to make public health information more accessible, to promote the reduction in inequalities and to inform health improvement in Scotland.

Further information

Data from this publication are available from the publication page on the ScotPHO website (external website).

The next release of this publication will be 29 March 2022.

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Older versions of this publication

Versions of this publication released before 16 March 2020 may be found on the Data and Intelligence, Health Protection Scotland or Improving Health websites.

Last updated: 07 October 2022
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