Hospital admissions due to alcohol are at their highest ever levels having increased more than 60% in the past 10 years, show new figures.
The statistics, published by NHS Digital, show the total number of alcohol-related hospital admissions in England increased to more than 1.1million in 2015-16.
“The data released today should be sobering reading”
Overall, the number of admissions has increased by 64% over the past decade, with an extra 430,000 people admitted due to alcohol-related causes in 2015-16 compared to 2005-06.
In contrast, separate data from the Office of National Statistics suggests the proportion of adults aged 16 and over who drink has in fact dropped.
The data on drinking habits in the UK as a whole found 56.9% of about 7,700 people who took part in the 2016 Opinions and Lifestyle Survey reported drinking alcohol in the week before being interviewed. This is down from 64.2% in 2005.
Survey data suggests there has been a reduction in the proportion of people who drank alcohol on five or more days, and an increase in the number saying they do not drink at all.
However, 26.8% of adults admitted to “binge” drinking on their heaviest drinking day.
Meanwhile, young people aged 16 to 24 in Great Britain were found to be less likely to drink than any other age group, although when they do they tend to drink more than other groups on their heaviest drinking days.
Liver doctor Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance UK, said the data showed the UK continued to have a “dysfunctional relationship” with alcohol.
Spike in alcohol-related admissions though fewer drinkers
The alliance is made up of more than 50 organisations including the Royal College of Nursing, Royal College of Physicians, Royal College of GPs, Institute of Alcohol Studies and substance misuse charities.
Professor Gilmore said: “We know that over the long term, rates of binge drinking are falling, and more people are choosing to abstain from alcohol.
“Worryingly, however, these trends do not appear big enough to stop alcohol harm from continuing to rise, and the sharp increase in alcohol-related hospital admissions over the last few years means hundreds of thousands more people each year are experiencing the misery associated with harmful alcohol consumption,” he said.
He added: “The data released today should be sobering reading for whoever wins the upcoming general election, and we would urge the next government to make tackling alcohol harm an immediate priority to save lives, reduce harm, and reduce the pressure on the NHS.”
- NHS Digital: Statistics on alcohol – England, 2017
- Office of National Statistics: Adult drinking habits in Great Britain 2005 to 2016