BMA calls for minimum price for alcohol throughout UK

The BMA has praised Scottish government plans for a 45p minimum alcohol unit price, and has urged other UK administrations to follow suit.

The call comes as new data show a 6 per cent fall in alcohol consumption, but a rise of 9.5 per cent in alcohol-related hospital admissions.

The BMA's chairman in Scotland, Dr Brian Keighley, said minimum unit pricing would prevent 50 deaths in its first year, adding: 'It will reduce the toll of alcohol on the health service, saving the NHS in excess of £80 million.'

A BMA UK spokesman said: 'We would urge the other UK governments to follow the example set by Scotland. There is strong scientific evidence that increasing price reduces rates of alcohol-related problems, particularly among young people.'

However, the DoH has no plans to introduce minimum unit pricing in England. A spokesman said: 'We will work to stop the below-cost price sale of alcohol. It is not clear that national minimum unit pricing is the best way to achieve this.'

Figures from the British Beer & Pub Association (BPPA) show an average of 8.4 litres of pure alcohol was consumed per head in 2009, down 6 per cent from 8.9 litres in 2008.

Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the BBPA, said: 'These figures confirm that as a nation, we are not drinking more. Policymakers should take note.'

Despite the fall in intake, there has been a 9.5 per cent rise in alcohol-related hospital admissions, according to North West Public Health Observatory figures for the year ending March 2009.

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