Yorkshire hospitals swamped by patients with alcohol poisoning

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Alcohol poisoning is seeing hospitals across Yorkshire forced to pick up the pieces after dealing with almost 10,000 cases a year.

Government figures show that in the last year a worrying number of hospital admissions were put down to alcohol poisoning. Across Yorkshire some 9,860 people ended up in hospital after over-indulging.

Alongside that, 257 children aged between 11 and 16 were also taken to hospital suffering from the effects of alcohol.

Figures showed that Leeds was the region’s hot spot for alcohol poisoning, with 1,548 cases recorded among adults and another 31 for those under 18.

Last night one Conservative MP told The Yorkshire Post the region was paying the price for the liberalising of licensing laws.

Andrew Percy, who sits on the House of Commons health select committee, said changes introduced in 2005 had had a “catastrophic” impact on towns and cities across the country.

The Brigg and Goole MP added: “I was on the licensing committee in Hull at the time and we said then we were very uneasy about the changes which would be allowed as a result of that, and we see the consequences of it today.

“People are drinking too much, and it is not a cost issue. I don’t think that is the issue, I think it is a cultural issue because the then Labour government decided you should be allowed to buy alcohol wherever you want, from a supermarket or a petrol station or wherever.

“It has been very damaging, you simply do not need to be able to buy alcohol at three or four in the morning.

“You can only look back at those changes now and say the impact was catastrophic.”

And while big cities dominated the figures, towns and villages have said they too face the ever growing problem of alcohol abuse.

In North Yorkshire the county council recently took the decision to start planning how to tackle alcohol abuse after worrying figures showed the toll it was taking.

The council’s official strategy makes clear that: “Alcohol-related hospital admissions are increasing year on year, and nearly 200 people die in North Yorkshire every year as a result of alcohol.”

It adds: “Alcohol is associated with crime, including domestic violence and sexual crime, and features in antisocial behaviour in particular with over a quarter of incidents associated with alcohol in some areas.”

The county council study found that binge drinking rates are between 23.2 per cent and 28.1 per cent, with the highest estimated rates in Richmondshire.

Coun Don Mackenzie, the county council’s executive member for public health, said: “What we do not want to do is to stop people from drinking, we are not spoilsports, and we know and agree that people want to come to places such as Scarborough and Harrogate and have a good time.

“But that does not mean that they should be able to do that in way which ruins other people’s fun, or makes them a problem for the police or for the hospitals who all too often have to clean up after these people.

“It is not an easy problem to solve. We came together to look at this strategy because we all need to be working together with the police, the NHS and others to look at what we do to tackle alcohol misuse.

“But I would not say minimum pricing is the way forward for us. If in Harrogate we were to introduce such a move you could easily see trade just move to somewhere else, with the hospitals and the police still picking up the pieces.

“And of course there is the issue that North Yorkshire is a more affluent area, people are prepared to spend a bit and so the minimum pricing issue would not really have an impact.

“So instead we will work with other partners to tackle this issue.”