Alcohol involved in 5,500 GP consultations per day in Scotland

Alcohol is a factor in 6% of all GP consultations in Scotland, according to a BMA survey.

On one day in April this year, the study found that 5,500 consultations involved alcohol, totalling 1.4 million consultations a year and costing the NHS more than £28m.

The BMA study was based on a sample of 31 practices from across Scotland, that reported on 21 April that 169 consultations with a GP or practice nurse had alcohol as a factor.

GPs are now calling on politicians involved in the Scottish parliamentary elections on 5 May to pledge action on the problems caused by alcohol in Scotland.

Deputy chairman of Scottish GPC Dr Alan McDevitt said: ‘We wanted to demonstrate very clearly how much of an impact alcohol has on the everyday work of general practice. Those who suffer from alcohol related health problems are not just alcoholics or heavy binge drinkers.

‘The patients seen in general practice are just the tip of the iceberg. The impact of alcohol misuse across the rest of the NHS, in hospitals and in our communities is far greater.’

Dr Bruce Ritson, Chairman of Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP) said: ‘Enforcement of existing legislation is one approach, but politicians will need to recognise that most people seen in general practice with an alcohol-related condition have not broken any law.

‘The simple fact is that individually and collectively we are drinking at levels that compromise our health and well-being and, as a society, we need to drink less.’

Colin Cooper

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