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May I recommend a White Lightning with your pot noodle, sir?


Bank holiday is a boozy time for a lot of us. Beyond the Bedpan loves nothing more than a lazy BBQ and a glass of wine. And we’d barely recovered from our bank holiday binge when we stumbled across two alcohol stories that seemed to contradict one another.

First we read a survey from the BBPA which claimed that consumption of alcohol has “plummeted” over the last five years. The clever people who know about these things have analysed the figures and worked out that we’re drinking 13% less than in 2004. With rising prices and stagnant wages it’s hardly surprising that we’re forgoing a trip to the pub. We can barely afford to keep ourselves in fob watches, nevermind knocking back bottle after bottle of merlot.

So why then is it also being reported that alcohol-related hospital admissions are increasing? A survey from North West Public Health Observatory showed a rise in admissions in the last five years. If we’re drinking less, then why were nearly a million people treated for alcohol related harm last year? Could it be that as we can no longer afford to go to swanky wine bars, we’re all sitting at home alone eating pot noodles and drinking White Lightning in our pants?

The survey also revealed that more than a quarter of drinkers exceed healthy limits every week. That’s a lot of people continuing to do something that surely by now they know is bad for their health.

And what can nurses do about it? Should people take responsibility for their own health or should the NHS protect itself from a very costly boozy future?

It’s all a bit much for us. If anyone needs us we’ll be in the kitchen looking for the gin.


Readers' comments (9)

  • If we continue to allow alcohol to be sold along side our regular shopping, people will treat it the same way as other "soft" drinks, and the alcohol abuse will continue

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  • I find it hard to believe the British Beer and Pub Association that we as a nation are drinking less. Maybe people are not drinking in pubs and clubs anymore, we are in a recessioon after all. But you can not ignore the admission figures to hosital in relation to alcohol abuse and the HUGH amount of money its costs the NHS and every tax payer in the counrty.

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  • Anonymous | 4-Sep-2010 11:40 am, I think you hit the nail on the head; they may just be using figures from pubs and clubs, I mean who can afford their prices too often!

    I think (as I have said in another post) that there will always be people tinkering with fluctuating statistics, there is not much point in paying too much attention too them when we all know that alchohol related problems still cause the NHS untold problems regardless.

    Again, as I have said before, I have got nothing against alcohol on the whole, nor those who just have the occassional drink and are sensible about it, indeed studies have shown an occassional glass of wine may even be good for you.

    However, it is about time heavy controls are bought in on the bars and clubs, as well as the supermarkets in an effort to control this. A minimum price for supermarkets would stop all this bulk buying of cheap booze, or at least limit it. They have already talked about making pubs and clubs pay for their irresponsibility by paying the police costs for patrolling the streets Friday and Saturday night; why not a similar levy (on supermarkets too) to get them to pay for all the A&E admissions caused by drunken idiots thrown out of these same bars?

    At the same time, it is about time the NHS starts withdrawing/refusing a lot of LTC treatment or charging for some drink related A&E admissions (not all, and this would be down to Nurses and Doctors clinical judgement on the floor) in an effort to force people to start taking responsibility for their own actions.

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  • I feel that the reason pubs and clubs profits are down is the all to do with the smoking ban, I really don't thnk the nation drinks less the hardened smokers will choose to stay and home in the warm rather than freezing on the pavements feeling like an outcast. Alcohol is cheap and anyone wanting/needing to drink or smoke will always find a way. I do feel it's unfair to hike up the price for sensible drinkers, it's always the minority who ruin things for the majority. There really is no easy answer to this as we are still able to make our own decisions as adults and should remain free to do this.

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  • Anonymous | 4-Sep-2010 6:34 pm It has nothing to do with the smoking ban!!! I can't remember specific sources but for a year or so after the smoking ban Irish pubs released figures showing profits going up and up!! So those pathetic smokers can stay on the pavement where they belong! The rest of us can enjoy going out now. Back to the point though, don't you think it's a bit more likely that profits are now going down because of the economic/job crisis? The fact that everyone's skint maybe? Think about it!

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  • Mike- I agree with you on the levy for pubs and clubs, if someone is profiting from all the drunks we look after then why not charge them(the pub/club owners) for it?

    But you still need to find out why irresponsible and dangerous drinking is ingrained so deep in the british culture.

    Minimum pricing and bulk limits will just make it more expensive to be a idiot who punches walls or whatever. need to treat the problem rather than just the symptoms.

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  • John I agree that British culture is just not capable of handling drink, I honestly do not know why. We (as a whole, I know there are exceptions) seem to have a mentality of drink as much as we can as fast as we can with the sole aim of getting pissed, I honestly do not get it! I really don't. And I agree that until this is adressed, there will always be a problem. Unfortunately I do not know how to change a culture.

    I do think however that measures such as levy's for pubs/clubs and minimum pricing/limits on bulk buys will at the very least relieve the problem a little. They will not solve it, you are right, there will always be the idiot who wants to drown every last brain cell and punch a wall regardless, but we can at the very least make it more dificult and punitive for them to do so. Perhaps A&E will be that little bit less busy of a Friday and Saturday night!

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  • As I mentioned in one of the other threads, all Trusts contribute hard cash to the NHSLA/CNST negligence funds for claims to be paid out of, why doesn't the Government compel brewers/distillers etc to do the same. The cost will be passed onto the customer and of course that means those who drink more will pay more which to me sounds like a win-win situation. Then - unlike with speed cameras - we need to ensure that the revenue raised by this scheme goes to the NHS and not somewhere else.

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  • As well as being a nurse I also used to play in a gigging band that played the pubs and clubs.

    After the smoking ban came into force a lot of pubs closed becuase the punters wanted to smoke and drink at the same time!!

    So a lot of venues for bands went to the wall and with it a lot of bands too!

    Anyway, what we then saw was an opportunity for the supermarkets to make the most of this and sell 2 slabs of 24 cans for 20 quid etc. etc.!! Absolutely ridiculous.

    So more pubs and clubs went to the wall and other pubs put there prices up to try and make up for the shortfall for customers not going in!

    People aren't binge drinking in pubs, it's too expensive. What they are doing is tanking up and cheap booze from Asda et al and then hitting the town with a few quid for topping up and a taxi home and then kicking off in the streets of our city centres!!

    People drinking less come on!! I saw a lad the other week in my clinic who was 16 years old and admitted to drinking nearly 200 units per week!!

    As has been said people are drinking less in pubs yes but as a whole no way, people are drinking more - a lot more!!!

    The government need to bring in a minimum price for a unit of alcohol and run it out across pubs, clubs, off licences and supermarkets alike and they should be able to stop supermarkets off setting alcohol prices also!!

    I need a rest now!

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