Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Alcohol-related hospital admissions soar

  • 13 Comments

Nearly a million people were admitted to hospital due to alcohol-related harm in England in 2008/09, researchers have found.

A survey by the North West Public Health Observatory found there were 945,469 admissions to hospital for alcohol-related harm, a rise of 825 admissions compared to five years ago.

It also revealed more than a quarter of drinkers exceed healthy limits every week.

The findings came as experts recommended a UK-wide price limit on drink should be brought in to try to curb alcohol misuse.

The Alcohol Commission, which was set up by the Labour Party in Scotland, has recommended a ban on selling drink at below the “floor price” of the cost of production, plus the cost of duty and VAT.

The study found that northerners were the most prolific drinkers, but alcohol-related crimes were committed mostly in London.

The academics based at Liverpool John Moores University’s Centre for Public Health published the findings in their Local Alcohol Profiles for England 2010 report.

Professor Mark Bellis, the observatory’s director, said: “The price we pay for turning a blind eye to the real extent of alcohol abuse across England is reflected in the new Local Alcohol Profiles for England and it is a price that is paid especially by the poorest communities.

“The English death toll from alcohol now exceeds 15,500 people every year. It is time to recognise that we are not a population of responsible drinkers with just a handful of irresponsible individuals ruining it for others.

“Over one in four drinkers exceed weekly limits according to national surveys and alcohol sales figures suggest the number is much higher.

“At weekends, by the early morning hours our city centres do not have just a few drunk individuals in them - actually most people are drunk yet continue to be able to buy alcohol despite such sales being illegal.

“We need to see the real cost of alcohol reflected in the price it is sold at and the warnings about the dangers that alcohol represents not relegated to a tiny corner in alcohol adverts, but written large enough for people to recognise the seriousness of the risks.”

Dr Ruth Hussey, regional director of public health for the North West, said: “Parts of the North West have already pioneered new ways to educate the public about alcohol and improve access to care for those requiring support. Alcohol costs people their jobs, their health and their lives.”

  • 13 Comments

Readers' comments (13)

  • 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.

    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 clinical judgement) in an effort to force people to start taking responsibility for their own actions.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Mike is quite right in suggesting that perhaps the withdrawal for the right to treatment of people requiring acute care as a direct result of drinking, but using clinical judgement is obviously fraught with difficulty due to fluctuating levels of discretion amongst those who make the decision (by the way I wonder who would end up making that decision?).

    Anyway, this morning if you care to look we are being told by the drinks industry (using HMRC figures) that alcohol consumption is down by 6% on last year and 13% down on 2004 which coincidentally according to the research cited in this story coincides with a rise of 825 hospital admissions. So on the one hand we have the industry stating that there has been a 13% reduction in alcohol sales since 2004 - using figures from HMRC who collect the tax on alcohol - and on the other a bunch of academics who state that admissions have risen by 0.09%.
    Is it me or is there a whiff of spin about this story? I am sure everyone would go absolutely frantic if their annual pay award was 0.09%, so why have the banner headlines for this extremely small percentage rise OVER FIVE YEARS!

    And before someone comes on and says that the journalists that write/cut and paste these articles are only working with the facts they have, where is the statement from the drinks industry or the Portman Group?

    Is this site truly run by journalists or spokesmen and spin doctors for agenda driven researchers?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • If Anonymous 8:19 above is correct with their maths, 0.09% is hardly a soaring rise. Also what is the definition of alcohol linked? It is interesting that the survey itself states that (only) 25% or thereabouts drink too much on a weekly basis. So with that in mind, how many of the close to a million admissions were repeat "offenders"?

    Very very poor research with no questions asked by the journalists of NT to challenge the findings or establish their veracity.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Guys, the quality of NT research and journalism is usually pretty poor as standard, and rather than getting hung up on . of a %, I think we can pretty much agree that regardless, alcohol related admissions are a HUGE problem for the NHS.

    Anonymous | 3-Sep-2010 8:19 am I agree that clinical judgement is always going to have problems of uniformity, however I think that as we already do on many other things, this clinical judgement would be based on a range of best practices and protocols. (And ideally I see it being made by Nurses or Doctors, we are the ones on the front line after all). Where I see it happening most for example, is if a protocol dictates anyone attending A&E with alchohol related injuries should be fined, then the Nurse/Clinician should be able to say that rule is justified for people who drink to excess so they don't even know who they are and need a stomach pump/those who drink and are violent toward staff, etc etc etc, but they should be able to wave that fee for genuine admissions, say if someone had a drink (nowhere near the level to be drunk), and had a genuine accident, or been the victim of an attack, etc. And this is something that best practice/policy cannot account for, it does take clinical judgement. You see what I mean?

    However this is still just a pipe dream.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Yeah we (the staff on my ward) are getting sick and tired of being attacked and thumped by detoxers. It is getting really old.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Despite concerns about increasing alcohol related problems I am astounded that the alcohol unit in Lancaster which has been a centre of excellence in detox and rehab for these patients is closing in December! Just cant see the sense in this at all.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • 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.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Sorry guys I posted that on the wrong article, thought I was still on the last one I read.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Anyone who works with an admissions environment (MAU, ED, ICU) can testify to the fact that at least half the patients admitted on a daily basis are there because of alcohol. We have several repeat offenders that attend ICU/HDU 4 or 5 times a year- GI bleeds, varices, pancreatitis, OD....10 years ago many would have died in ED...nowadays after several emergency admissions, are we any better off? Many say that they have tried to get help to stop drinking but have been refused.
    As an aside....whats happened to militantmedicalnurse blog?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • actually the 'soaring' number of admissions is up by 0.009% in the last 5 years using the figures above.
    Soaring. Out of control, something must be done!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Show 1020results per page

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.