Hospital alcohol admissions ‘to soar’

Hospital admissions due to alcohol could rise more than a third by 2015, a report says.

Admissions for alcohol misuse are likely to hit 1.5 million a year unless the Government steps in to tackle the problem, according to research from Alcohol Concern.

The number of admissions in England because of alcohol misuse was 1.1 million in 2009-10, a 100 per cent rise since 2002-03, today’s report says.

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“If the rise continues unchecked, by the end of the current Parliament a staggering 1.5 million people will be admitted to hospital every year as a result of drinking.”

In the past 60 years, the average alcohol intake per person per year has risen across the UK from five litres in the 1950s to more than 11 litres in 2007.

More than 10 million adults in England now drink more than the recommended daily limit, with 2.6 million drinking more than twice that, according to researchers.

The report adds: “There has also been a dramatic rise in drinking among women, with heavy drinking increasing by almost a third in the decade prior to 2008.”

As well as health problems linked with alcohol, the report points to “damage” echoing throughout society, contributing to 1.2 million incidents of violent crime a year, 40 per cent of domestic violence cases and six per cent of all road casualties.

It says the cost to the NHS in England will rise from £2.7bn a year to £3.7bn unless steps are taken to deal with alcohol abuse. The £2.7bn is already roughly twice the equivalent figure for 2001.

The cost of alcohol to society as a whole is even greater, the report goes on, estimated to stand at £17bn to £22bn, with some reports high as £55bn.

Alcohol Concern is calling on the Government to invest in alcohol health workers in hospitals, hospital units and GP practices.