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Sharp rise in alcohol-related harm

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Nearly half of those admitted were over 55 Nearly half of those admitted were over 55 years old

Around 1.3 million people were admitted to hospital because of alcohol in 2018, 7.4% of all hospital admissions across the country, new data released by the NHS has shown.

The number of people admitted into hospital because of alcohol has risen by 60% in the last decade, and is a figure that has risen year on year for the last ten years. In 2018/19, 1,261,960 people admitted to hospital where the primary reason or a secondary diagnosis was linked to alcohol, 8% more than the previous year (1,171,250) and 60% more than in 2008/09 (784,650).

Almost half of those admitted (47%) were aged between 55 and 74 and just under two thirds of all admissions were male. Southampton had the highest rate of hospital admissions due to alcohol, at 4,020 per 100,000 population. East Sussex had the lowest rate at 1,080.

‘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. This latest data shows that hospital admissions for alcohol are at record levels and 77% of alcohol related deaths were in the age range 40-69; this is nothing short of a national health disaster. And it is people in the poorest communities who are affected the most,’ said Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, Chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance.

The biggest reason for admission into hospital was for cardiovascular disease, accounting for 645,070 (51%) of all admissions. 17% (220,730) of all admissions were for mental and behavioural disorders due to alcohol, conditions which include acute intoxication, harmful use of alcohol, dependence to alcohol and withdrawal from alcohol.

‘There are steps the Government should take in the next few weeks that would start a fightback against alcohol harms,’ added professor Gilmore. ‘The Chancellor needs to increase alcohol duty by 2% 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. The Government must get serious about preventing harmful drinking by committing to making these changes now.’

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