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Alcohol-linked admissions rising

The number of admissions to hospital because of alcohol-related diseases, injuries or conditions has more than doubled over the last decade, official figures show.

The figure has gone up by 5% in the last year alone, the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) said.

Its latest statistics show that in 2013/14 there were an estimated 1,059,210 alcohol-related admissions, 50,360 (5%) more than in 2012/13 and 565,450 (115%) higher than in 2003/04.

Nearly half (48%) were due to cardiovascular disease in 2013/14, a rise of 7% compared to the year before and 66% more than a decade ago.

There was also a 1% rise in alcohol-related deaths in 2013 compared to a year earlier, and a 10% increase compared to 10 years ago.

The HSCIC figures also show a 2% rise in alcohol-related admissions to hospital due to patients suffering from cancer compared to a year earlier; 18% up from a decade ago.

The number of people who drink has actually gone down, with more than one in five adults (21%) not drinking alcohol at all in Great Britain, compared to 19% in 2005.

The number of children who said they had tried alcohol in England was at its lowest level since it was first measured in 1988, with 39% of pupils in years seven to 11 saying they had tried it at least once in 2013.

A decade ago 61% said they had.

Professor Kevin Fenton, director of health and well-being at Public Health England (PHE) said: "These new figures show some encouraging results, but the harms caused by alcohol in England remain worryingly high, leading to over one million hospital admissions every year.

"A lot of the ill health we are seeing associated with alcohol, such as heart disease and cancer, is among people who are not dependent, but who drink frequently and are unaware of the risks.

"Public Health England will continue to work with national and local partners on measures to reduce alcohol harms through raising awareness and providing effective local interventions and treatment for all who need them."

The figures also show a decrease in the amount of people binge drinking.

While 18% said they had done so in the last week in 2005, this went down to 15% in 2013.

In young adults this fell from 29% to 18%.

People who work in manual occupations were more likely to be teetotal (20%) than intermediate occupations (17%) or who held managerial and professional positions (12%).

The HSCIC said that between 2010 and 2013 household spending on alcoholic drinks fell by 5.7%, while money spent on alcohol outside the home dropped by 13.4%.

Between 1980 and 2014 the price of alcohol increased by 23.2% more than retail prices generally, but alcohol in 2013 was nearly 53.8% more affordable than it was in 1980.

A spokesman for the Portman Group, which represents the alcohol industry, said: "Any increase in hospital admissions is unwelcome, but it is important to note that a significant proportion of these visits are individuals admitted on multiple occasions - further evidence that local authorities, businesses and community groups must work in partnership to provide targeted support to the minority who need the most support.

"Government figures show a significant and sustained decline in harmful drinking, binge drinking and underage drinking in the last decade and that the vast majority of adults drink within safe guidelines. We must continue these positive trends."

Sarah Jarvis, medical adviser for alcohol education charity Drinkaware, said: "These findings show that the health harms caused by alcohol remain a cause for concern. In the long term, alcohol can lead to health harms such as cancer and heart disease.

"Alcohol-related admissions to hospital due to cancer increased by 18% in the last decade, highlighting the link between alcohol and the disease, which people are often unaware of. In the same period alcohol-related admissions due to heart disease also rose again, reflecting the often unknown link between alcohol and the condition.

"Regularly drinking above the government's lower risk guidelines can increase your risk of developing alcohol-related liver disease, which often has no warning signs.

"This is one of the main reasons it's important to consider staying below the lower risk limits and introducing some drink-free time to your week."


From Belfast Telegraph