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Two million A&E visits down to alcohol


Alcohol-related injury and illness accounts for 14% of all accident and emergency hospital attendance, research has found.

More than one in 10 people attend A&E wards with an alcohol-related injury, while 3% of patients attend due to alcohol-related illness, a study suggests.

The authors of the report, which is published online in the Emergency Medicine Journal, said the numbers equate nationally to nearly two million alcohol-related visits to emergency care departments in England and Wales every year.

The researchers found that one third of patients, or 640,000, who attended A&E units required admission to hospital.

They studied 774 patients seeking emergency care at Bristol Royal Infirmary over a four week period in June 2009.

“Harmful and hazardous alcohol use is a major problem,” the authors said. “If these figures are extrapolated, the number of patients presenting with alcohol-related injury is in excess of 7,000 attendances to the Bristol Royal Infirmary annually, or nearly two million patients every year in England and Wales.”

Alcohol Concern director of campaigns Emily Robinson said: “Alcohol-related hospital admissions remain extremely high, having doubled over a decade.

“This study provides a worrying insight into the actual level of the burden put on to emergency medical services by those who have been drinking and those who suffer the results of alcohol-induced violence, and it estimates nearly two million attendances at A&E per year across England and Wales could be due to alcohol.”

She added: “While the government has shown a will to tackle these problems in its new alcohol strategy, it must now make sure that the policies suggested, such as dedicated alcohol liaison nurses in A&E, are backed by sufficient resources to make a real difference.”



Readers' comments (4)

  • I think it is discusting, it is THERE choice not a condition!, when I went to A&E for treatment for a hip injury, i was told they wouldn't do anything for me! but they will spend time on an alcoholic!!

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  • there was suggestions some time ago that there should be separate dedicated facilities with trained staff to deal with this problem for every body's safety and so that resources are adequately available for emergencies and all other cases presenting to A&E.

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  • Anon 4.12
    Take it that you didn't have a #NOF then, chronic alcoholism is a disease, and we tend in hospitals to spend time with ill people, self-inflicted or not
    I am surprised, thought the figures would be far higher for drink-related admissions, but I bet you the £'s the chancellor recieves in duty exceeds the costs of alcohol related illnesses to the NHS.

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  • The Govt need to tackle the reason why there is an increased use in alcohol - unemployment, boredom, stress, cheap alcohol, happy hours, etc.

    Retailers and the drinks industry supply the stuff, they need to take some responsibility. Perhaps they would like to open, fund and staff help-centres and overnight hostel-type beds.

    People who are just pissed and can barely stand up or have been in a fight and need to sleep it off but have no serious injuries should have access to a place of safety, not necessarily an acute hospital bed.

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