Alcohol-related hospital admissions rise 60% over decade, NHS figures show

Campaigners call on government to increase taxes on booze and provide more support to harmful drinkers

Samuel Osborne
Wednesday 05 February 2020 10:21
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Nearly half of those admitted were aged between 55 and 74 and just under two thirds were male
Nearly half of those admitted were aged between 55 and 74 and just under two thirds were male

The number of alcohol-related hospital admissions has risen by 60 per cent in the last decade, figures show.

At least 1.3 million people were admitted to hospital with a primary or secondary diagnosis linked to alcohol in 2018, according to a report from NHS Digital.

The figure represents 7.4 per cent of all hospital admissions across the country.

In 2018/19, there were 1,261,960 alcohol-related admissions, an 8 per cent rise over the previous year (1,171,250) and a 60 per cent increase on 2008/09 (784,650).

Campaigners called on the government to increase taxes on alcohol and provide more support for harmful drinkers.

Nearly half of those admitted (47 per cent) were aged between 55 and 74 and just under two thirds of all those admitted were male.

Some 5,698 people died due to drink in 2018, 2 per cent lower than 2017 but a 7 per cent rise on 2008.

Mental and behavioural disorders due to alcohol led to admissions, while alcohol also influenced admissions for cancer, unintentional injuries and heart disease.

Laura Bunt, acting chief executive of the charity Addaction, said: “In 2018 the UK government announced it would be creating a new, stand-alone alcohol strategy.

“But this January, the promise was quietly rolled back. These statistics show that a new approach is needed.”

She added: ”We’ve learnt from our services that as people age, big life events such as divorce, bereavement, financial issues or even retirement can leave people feeling isolated and unable to cope.

“What’s more, harmful alcohol use among older adults is often a hidden problem, with many drinking at home alone instead of out and socialising.”

Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, chairman of the Alcohol Health Alliance, said: “The government needs to wake up to the fact that the harmful use of alcohol is killing people across the country right now.

“Far too many people are dying much too young as a direct result of unhealthy levels of alcohol consumption in England.

“The chancellor needs to increase alcohol duty by 2 per cent above inflation in the next Budget.

“In addition, England needs minimum unit pricing, following the lead of Scotland and Wales, and cuts in support for harmful drinkers need to be reversed.”

An NHS spokesman said: “Tackling preventable illness is a key part of the NHS Long Term Plan, which is why alcohol care teams will be rolled out in hospitals with the highest number of alcohol-related admissions and will support patients and their families who have issues with alcohol misuse.”

Additional reporting by Press Association

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