Alcohol-related hospital admissions up 70%

The annual number of alcohol-related admissions to hospital in England rose by nearly 70% in five years to 863,000 in 2007/8, according to NHS Information Centre figures.

One in three men and one in six women are estimated to be hazardous drinkers in report ‘Statistics on Alcohol: England, 2009’. 6% of men and 2% of women were estimated to be harmful drinkers, the most serious form of hazardous drinking, which means they are likely to suffer physical or mental harm, such as liver disease or depression.

In England in 2007 there were 134,429 prescription items for drugs for the treatment of alcohol dependency prescribed in primary care or NHS hospitals and dispensed in the community. This is an increase of 31% since 2003.

Conservative shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley said: ‘A Conservative government would create an environment which promotes sensible drinking. We will make sure drinking laws are enforced. Work with business to find innovative and effective ways of tackling alcohol abuse.’

Janet Davies, the RCN’s executive director for nursing and service delivery, said: ‘The latest report adds to the evidence that self-regulation by the drinks industry isn’t working. We need more effective regulation that ensures retailers don’t engage in unscrupulous practices which encourage customers to drink to excess. At the same time, we need to step up public health campaigns that educate the public about the dangers of binge drinking.’

neil.durham@haymarket.com

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