NHS facing 'intolerable strain' with 10m alcohol-related admissions in England

Alcohol misuse costs the NHS an estimated £3.5 billion each year

The NHS is facing an "intolerable strain" because of excessive drinking, it has been revealed, as new figures show nearly 10 million people need treatment for alcohol-related illnesses annually. 

Alcohol misuse costs the NHS an estimated £3.5 billion each year, while figures suggest drinking can be attributed to almost half of all head and neck cancer inpatient admissions – costing £65.3 million.

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Jackie Ballard, the chief executive of Alcohol Concern, said the NHS is now facing an “intolerable strain” from alcohol-related illnesses.

The campaign group said there were almost 9.8 million alcohol-related admissions to hospitals in England between 2012 and 2013. London had the highest admissions of anywhere else in England, with 1.2 million visits to hospital within that period.

According to Alcohol Concern, 9.6 million people are drinking in excess of Government guidelines. Over two million drinkers are classed as “high risk”.

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Commenting on the data, Ms Ballard said: “This is not just from readily-identifiable causes such as A&E visits and admissions for liver disease, but from a significant number of other conditions in which alcohol plays a major, but often underappreciated part.

“We need to ensure adequate alcohol care pathways are prioritised and appropriate services are put in place to ease this burden.

“However, we also urgently need action to prevent alcohol misuse; the first and most effective of which is for the government to implement a minimum unit price, which has the potential to save the economy millions, and most importantly save lives."

Additional reporting by PA