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16 Oct, 2014

Total NHS alcohol-related admissions in England nears 10 million

London, (Alcohol Concern media release), 15 October 2014 -A new map of alcohol harm published today has shown that the total number of alcohol-related NHS admissions, including inpatient, outpatient and A&E visits, hit almost 10 million in England during 2012-13.

The findings, taken from Alcohol Concern’s newly updated Alcohol Harm Map, show that whilst A&E admissions accounted for 6 in every 10 alcohol-related hospital visits, inpatient admissions were responsible for almost two thirds of the total cost burden.

In addition to mapping the cost of admissions for causes directly related to alcohol misuse, the new map also reveals comprehensively for the first time the burden of a number of additional conditions in which alcohol is a significant contributory factor, demonstrating the wider health and financial impact unsafe drinking is having.

The new Alcohol Harm Map also shows that*:

  • 9.6 million people in England are now drinking in excess of Government guidelines, of whom 2.4 million are classed as ‘high risk’.
  • The cost of inpatient admissions partly attributable to alcohol was £1.3bn, almost 3 times greater than the cost of those which were wholly attributable (£518m).
  • There was a  £708m cost to the NHS for hypertensive disease inpatient admissions attributable to alcohol consumption alone.
  • Alcohol is attributable for almost half of all head and neck cancer inpatient admissions at a cost to the NHS of £65.3m.
  • Just over 13% of all malignant neoplasm of breast inpatient admissions were attributable to alcohol, at a cost to the NHS of £27.1m.

*according to 2012-13 data

Commenting on the data, Alcohol Concern Chief Executive Jackie Ballard said: “The NHS is now facing an intolerable strain from alcohol-related illnesses. This is not just from readily-identifiable causes such as A&E visits and admissions for liver disease, but from a significant number of other conditions in which alcohol plays a major, but often underappreciated part.”

“We need to ensure adequate alcohol care pathways are prioritised and appropriate services are put in place to ease this burden. However, we also urgently need action to prevent alcohol misuse; the first and most effective of which is for the government to implement a minimum unit price, which has the potential to save the economy millions, and most importantly save lives.”

Commenting on the significance for the NHS, Dr Carsten Grimm, Clinical Lead for the Alcohol Service in Kirklees, said: “It is vital that people understand the full consequences of drinking at unsafe levels can have on their health. With almost ten million alcohol-related hospital admissions, we can see just how serious an impact unsafe levels of alcohol consumption is having on our health system. Drinking alcohol above recommended levels can have a damaging impact upon almost every part of our body, and it is crucial that national and local organisations work together to address this harm.”

The Alcohol Harm Map, produced by Alcohol Concern in partnership with the pharmaceutical company Lundbeck Ltd, is available at: [insert weblink]. The purpose of the map is to reveal the real harm and cost of alcohol at a local level, so that local authorities and local health providers can ensure that alcohol prevention and treatment services are available to those with drinking problems.

The map includes data, by each local authority and Clinical Commissioning Group area for:

  • Alcohol-related healthcare costs, broken down by age and gender
  • Alcohol-related hospital admissions, broken down by age and gender
  • Alcohol-related deaths
  • Number of people drinking too much
  • Impact of alcohol upon selected conditions

To access the Alcohol Harm Map, please click here

The Alcohol Harm Map provides a breakdown of alcohol-related admissions and costs for all 152 upper tier local authorities (LAs) and 211 Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in England in 2012-13. The headline data is complemented by data around alcohol-related mortality, the size of the adult drinking population and an analysis of five alcohol-related conditions and their relationship to alcohol misuse.

Alcohol Concern is the national charity on alcohol misuse campaigning for effective alcohol policy and improved services for people whose lives are affected by alcohol-related problems. It is a registered charity and operates in England and Wales.

Alcohol Concern partnered with pharmaceutical company Lundbeck Ltd in the production of the Alcohol Harm Map. Within the guidance of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry code of practice, Lundbeck provided Alcohol Concern with an educational grant; project management support from communications consultancy Munro & Forster and funding for the design and development of the map and collation of the data.