United Kingdom: Number of patients admitted to NHS hospitals for alcohol fuelled-illnesses rises by a fifth in a decade, shocking figures show
Some 357,660 people treated for drink-fuelled illnesses in 2019, NHS data show
Cancer made up almost a quarter of all the admissions, followed by accidents
Stoke-on-Trent was found to be the worst offender for alcohol related cases
By CONNOR BOYD
4 February 2020
The number of patients admitted to hospital for alcohol-related illnesses has spiked by a fifth in a decade, shocking figures show.
There were at least 357,660 people hospitalised for drink-fuelled conditions in England in 2019, a 19 per cent rise from the 300,930 recorded in 2009.
They include patients with liver damage, cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure and strokes all caused by excessive alcohol consumption.
Cancer, which is known to cause seven types of the disease and linked to more, made up almost a quarter of all the admissions (23 per cent).
Unintentional injuries such as car crashes, falls and alcohol poisoning, were the second biggest cause.
Middle-aged and older adults aged between 45 to 64 made up the majority of all admissions (40 per cent), NHS Digital statistics show.
While men, known to be heavier drinkers, are responsible for more than two thirds of all drink-fuelled hospital visits.
The actual number of alcohol-related hospital admissions across Britain is estimated to be around 1.3 million.
But not all of these instances had alcohol as the attributable factor in the patient’s medical notes.
Stoke-on-Trent was found to be the worst offender for alcohol related cases.
For every 100,000 people living in the port city, 1,130 require hospital treatment for a condition spurred on by drinking too much. This is the equivalent to 1.16 per cent of all residents
On the opposite end of the scale, East Sussex had the lowest reported rate across Britain.
Just 320 people required hospital treatment for their alcohol-related illnesses per 100,000 people (0.32 per cent).
Alcohol-related deaths have also risen by 7 per cent in the last decade, the figures show.
In England in 2018, there were 5,698 alcohol-specific deaths, compared to 5,300 in 2008.
But drink-fuelled deaths have actually decreased by 2 per cent in the last year, falling from 5,812 in 2017.
Alcoholic liver disease accounted for eight out of ten deaths, and a further 10 per cent were from mental and behavioural disorders due to the use of alcohol, including suicide.
The report also found that men and women aged 55 to 64 are the most likely to drink more than 14 units of alcohol a week – the maximum amount recommended by the NHS.
Some 38 per cent of men and 19 per cent of women in this age group usually drink more than 14 units in a week, the data showed, while 76,000 people in 2018/19 were treated for problematic drinking alone.
Laura Bunt, acting chief executive of the charity Addaction, said: ‘In 2018 the UK government announced it would be creating a new, stand-alone alcohol strategy.
‘But this January, the promise was quietly rolled back. These statistics show that a new approach is needed.
‘We know that minimum unit pricing, which sets a price below which a unit of alcohol can’t be legally sold, has been effective in reducing alcohol consumption.
‘In Scotland, alcohol sales have hit a 25-year low since it was introduced in 2018. While there needs to be a national strategy, we can see from these statistics that the group most at risk are older adults.
‘We’ve learnt from our services that as people age, big life events such as divorce, bereavement, financial issues or even retirement can leave people feeling isolated and unable to cope.
‘What’s more, harmful alcohol use among older adults is often a hidden problem, with many drinking at home alone instead of out and socialising.’