Deaths linked to alcohol on the rise


There has been a rise in the number of hospital admissions and deaths linked to drinking, data suggests.

In 2014/15, there were 1.1 million admissions for diseases caused by alcohol or made worse by it, as well as injuries related to drinking, according to estimates in a report by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).

This is up 3% on the year before and represents admissions in England where alcohol was the primary or secondary reason for people being taken into hospital.

Men accounted for nearly two-thirds of admissions.

Salford, Greater Manchester, had the highest rate of admissions at 3,570 per 100,000 people, while Wokingham in Berkshire had the lowest rate at 1,270 per 100,000.

In 2014, there were 6,831 deaths linked to alcohol, an increase of 4% on 2013 and up 13% on 2004.

About 196,000 prescription items were dispensed in England in 2015 for alcohol addiction, up 1% on 2014 and nearly double the level a decade ago.

The NHS spent £3.93 million in 2015 on the medicines, up 15% on the previous year.

The report found that 28.9 million people in the UK reported drinking in the previous week - 58% of the population.

But there was a drop in the proportion of secondary school pupils who said they had ever drunk alcohol, to 38%, the lowest figure ever recorded.

Professor Kevin Fenton, national director of health and wellbeing at Public Health England, said: "These figures show continuing positive trends with younger people drinking less.

"However, hospital admissions and deaths from alcohol-related illnesses and injuries continue to increase every year among adults in England, with men disproportionately affected.

"Many of these illnesses, such as heart disease and cancer, are experienced by people who may be unaware that their drinking is damaging their health."

A spokesman for the Portman Group, which represents the drinks 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.

"HSCIC figures (2009-13) show 54% of hospital admissions related to alcohol are people admitted twice or more, and 26% are people admitted four times or more. Along with the stark regional variations in alcohol-related harms this is further evidence that local authorities, businesses and community groups must work in partnership to provide targeted support to the minority who need it most.

"These figures show that almost 50% of alcohol-related hospital admissions are attributed to cardiovascular disease, a complex condition prevalent among over-65s, linked to a range of risk factors. This reflects the complex interaction between lifestyle and the challenges of an ageing population.

"Official statistics show significant and sustained declines in harmful drinking in the last decade."

Izzi Seccombe, from the Local Government Association, said: "A large number of admissions were middle-aged and older age groups.

"Despite drinking comparatively little, older people consume alcohol far more often. These figures warn of the dangers of regular drinking over a long period of time and the impact this can have on the body of an older person, which is less able to handle the same level of alcohol as in previous years.

"Many of us like to have a drink to relax and enjoy our free time, but councils are committed to helping people cut down on how much they drink and how regularly, through supporting initiatives such as Dry January, to raise awareness and encourage small lifestyle changes which can have a big impact on improving people's health."