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Tuesday, 22 July 2008

More than 800,000 people are admitted to hospital each year with alcohol-related illnesses and injuries — four times the official figure

Alcohol hospital admissions four times higher than official figure
Article in the Telegraph


"Figures will show that six per cent of all NHS admissions are in some way caused by drink, The Daily Telegraph can disclose. And the rate of visits to hospital over alcohol-related problems is rising by 10 per cent every year.

The figures indicate the true impact alcohol has on the NHS from accidents, violence and disease. They include for the first time estimates of the number of cancers caused by alcohol consumption as well as heart disease and strokes.

Alcohol is thought to cause about 17,000 cases of cancer a year and £2billion of NHS money is spent every year treating patients with alcohol-related diseases. Alan Johnson, the Health Secretary, believes “lifestyle” illnesses will put an increasing strain on the NHS unless people behave more responsibly.

Ministers fear that resources needed to tackle other diseases will have to be diverted if there is no change in behaviour.

A Department of Health source said: “It is important that we get the real figures so no one is in doubt about how widespread and potentially damaging alcohol-related illnesses are. The action can only be taken when the full scale of the problem is known.”

Labour has faced intense criticism over the introduction of 24-hour drinking in 2005.

Amid growing concerns about the level of alcohol-fuelled violence, pubs and nightclubs have been accused of flouting the laws on underage drinking. Last week figures showed that more than 600,000 children admit to drinking on a regular basis.

Supermarkets have faced repeated calls to ban discount alcohol, in particular deals in in which beer is cheaper than bottled water. And ministers are considering plans to tackle the problem, including cigarette-style health warnings on bottles and cans, a ban on “happy hours” where bars sell cut-price drinks and rules outlawing supermarket discounts.

Today’s announcement will strengthen calls for action."

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