The findings reveal there were 811,000 admissions in 2006 linked to 44 conditions caused or strongly associated with drinking alcohol. In 2002 this figure was just 473,500. The estimated cost to the NHS is £2.7 billion.
A KPMG review of the drinks industry found voluntary agreements to restrict the way alcohol is sold were not being followed by pubs, wine bars and off licences.
This could mean mandatory rules coming in to force the drinks industry to tackle the problem of England’s binge drinking culture. It could mean retailers would have to restrict sale of alcohol by offering it in smaller glasses, cutting happy hours, giving information on units in off licences and training staff sales to underage or drunk customers.
Manufacturers have until the end of the year to put warnings and advice on bottles and cans. If they do not, the government will make them do it through mandatory regulation.
Launching the report, public health minister Dawn Primarolo said: ‘Around a quarter of the population drink to a harmful level. These people could be drinking themselves into an early grave – we need the drinks industry to give them the health and information needed to drink at a safer level.’