AHA comment on A&E ‘high intensity users’

10 January 2019: Commenting on a new report by the healthcare analysis company Dr Foster, Sir Ian Gilmore, chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance, said:

“The fact that people with serious alcohol problems and chaotic lives place a significant burden on emergency departments comes as no surprise to people working in the field. Public health teams across the country have been trying to tackle this issue for some time but their efforts have been hindered by a lack of resources and cuts in specialist alcohol treatment services.

“We would support further investment in this area to reduce pressure on the NHS and improve the lives of some very vulnerable individuals and call on the Government to address the issue in a new alcohol strategy for England. It should include support for local teams to reach out to at risk groups with comprehensive packages of care. That must be supported by increased investment in specialist treatment services. As a result of cuts to the public health budget England has fallen far behind Scotland and Wales in access to specialist treatment: access in England is approximately half the level in Scotland and Wales, as described in the recent (Dec 2018) Lancet Liver Commission report as published in The Lancet medical journal.

“With over one million alcohol-related hospital admissions a year in England, the pressure placed on the NHS stretches far beyond this group into people suffering from a range of conditions, including heart disease, stroke and cancer. That is why a new alcohol strategy must include the introduction of a minimum unit price for alcohol which will increase the price of the cheapest alcohol consumed by the heaviest drinkers.”

The study can be found here, and some coverage is available here.