Alcohol misuse: The toll on Yorkshire's elderly admitted to hospital for alcohol related conditions after coronavirus pandemic

Few will have been surprised to learn about how people resorted to misusing alcohol during the months of depair when the country was under coronavirus restrictions. And the elderly seem to have been as vulnerable as anyone.

Recent data from Public Health England revealed that nearly 9,000 people living in Yorkshire and the Humber aged 65 and over were admitted to hospital in 2021/22 - the year following the global pandemic - for primary alcohol related conditions.

The figure, 8,977, equates to 857 people per 100,000 living in the region for that age group requiring admission into NHS hospitals where the primary diagnosis – i.e. the main reason for admission - is an alcohol-related condition. The England rate is 810 per 100,000.

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Such conditions include ethanol poisoning, alcoholic liver disease, excess alcohol blood levels, alcoholic cardiomyopathy and mental and behavioural disorders due to use of alcohol, to name a few.

Nuno Albuquerque, Head of Treatment, UKAT Group.Nuno Albuquerque, Head of Treatment, UKAT Group.
Nuno Albuquerque, Head of Treatment, UKAT Group.

What’s more, a further 14,877 people aged between 40 and 64 years old (840 per 100,000) were also hospitalised for primary alcohol-related conditions during the same year, while the England rate is 772 per 100,000.

This comes to total of 23,854 people aged over 40 in Yorkshire and the Humber who were hospitalised in the year following the Covid crisis, raising concern about the rise of alcohol misuse in the region from experts at the UK Addiction Treatment Group (UKAT).

According to the data, analysed by the local alcohol experts at the UKAT Group, 58 per cent (8,731) of those hospitalised aged 40-64 years old were male and 72 per cent (6,486) of those aged 65-plus and hospitalised were male.

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Nuno Albuquerque, head of treatment at the group, says: “The Covid crisis was difficult for everyone, but for the elderly, we’re now seeing how much it really affected their mental and physical health. Turning to alcohol as a way to cope with the loneliness and fear that 2020 brought is something that many people did, but for those age over 65 in particular, a large proportion in the region are now requiring help for their alcohol use.

“We’re also very concerned about those in the 40-64 age bracket- males in particular - whose alcohol problems are getting to the level where hospital admission is necessary. If they have to be kept in hospital, their problem is likely to be serious.

"Our concern is who is looking after them when they leave hospital? Are they getting access to the local alcohol support services they need to prevent further health problems? Or will they be left to fend for themselves and ultimately end up back in hospital with the same - if not worsened - problems?”

Alcohol consumption is a contributing factor to hospital admissions and deaths related to a diverse range of conditions, says the group.

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