5 February 2019:
Alcohol harm is a disease of the poor and the elderly, according to new figures released today by Public Health England (PHE).
Drinkers in England’s 10 per cent most deprived local authorities are more than twice as likely to be admitted to hospital for a condition totally caused by alcohol than those in the 10 per cent least deprived council areas. This is despite the fact that poorer communities are drinking less than their more affluent counterparts.
And while fewer children are being admitted to hospital because of alcohol, older groups are increasingly in need of support, with admissions for conditions for which alcohol is the main cause being highest amongst the over 65s.
The figures also reveal that alcohol related hospital admissions reached 1.17 million in 2017/18 and have increased every year for the last 10 years. This figure ‘gives an indication of the full impact of alcohol on hospital admissions and the burden placed on the NHS’, according to PHE.
“Once again these figures demonstrate that it is the most vulnerable in our communities who are suffering because cheap alcohol is far too available across our communities,” according to liver physician and Chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance, Professor Sir Ian Gilmore. “In fact, studies suggest that there tend to be more outlets selling alcohol in poorer areas than in more affluent communities.
“These figures send a strong message to the Government that an evidence-based approach to tackling alcohol harm is long overdue if they are truly committed to tackling health inequalities.
“The new alcohol strategy for England, which is currently under discussion, must include measures to tackle the affordability, availability and promotion of alcohol – and that should start by following Scotland’s example by introducing a minimum unit price for alcohol. The measure would save lives amongst poorer groups and at the same time reduce the pressure on our over-stretched public services.”