Alcohol-related hospital admissions in the UK rose by 100,000 people last year – and deaths have rocketed by 16% in the last decade, new NHS figures show.
A total of 1.2 million people were taken to hospital with an alcohol-related problem in 2017-18 – that’s 7.2% of all hospital admissions.
The report also shows a 6% year-on-year rise in the number of alcohol-specific deaths, from 5,507 in 2016 to 5,843 in 2017 – a rise of 16% in 10 years.
Addiction treatment experts are now urging the government to stop ignoring the “double-whammy” crisis that alcohol is causing for the NHS.
Eytan Alexander, CEO of UKAT, an addiction treatment firm, criticised the government for not having a standalone policy on alcohol, and said the trend cannot be allowed to continue for another 12 months.
“The numbers speak for themselves,” he says. “Alcohol in England is without a doubt at crisis point and worse still, we start another year with no dedicated strategy from government for tackling alcoholism in this country.”
The NHS numbers show 83% of alcohol-related hospital admissions were of patients aged over 45, and just under two thirds were male.
Regionally, Salford has the highest rate of admissions at 3,430 per 100,000 population, and Wokingham had the lowest rate at just 1,410.
The vast majority (78%) of alcohol-related deaths occur between the ages of 40-69 and, as expected, death rates were highest in the most deprived areas and lowest in the least deprived areas.
Alexander says his treatment centres had also experienced a rise in alcohol-related cases – throughout 2018, UKAT treated 1,025 patients for alcohol addiction in 2018, compared to just 579 in 2015: a 77% rise in three years.
“It’s time to admit that change is needed in order to help the NHS and to help those most vulnerable,” says Alexander. “Why is it that alcohol misuse is always shoehorned into the overall drugs policy? It needs to be recognised as a standalone problem, because that’s exactly what it is – a problem.”
HuffPost UK has contacted NHS England for a statement in response to these statistics and will update the piece when they respond.