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Binge-drink Britain: Hospital alcohol admissions soar by more than 50% in five years

Alcohol-related admissions to hospitals in England have soared by more than 50 per cent over the last five years, latest figures revealed last night.

Startling data from the Department of Health showed there were 863,257 drink-related admissions in 2007-08, up sharply from 569,418 in 2003-04 – the year Labour’s reforms ushered in round-the-clock drinking.

That is the equivalent of 98 people admitted to hospital every hour of every day because of drink-fuelled accidents or assaults, or due to serious illness caused by excessive drinking.

The number of male patients admitted with alcohol recorded as a factor rose from 351,121 to 537,365, while for females the figures leapt from 218,297 to 325,892.

And there was a disturbing rise in the number of young women affected, with alcohol-related admissions among 10 to 16-year-old girls up from 3,948 to 5,408, while among 17 to 21-year-olds figures leapt from 7,979 to 13,007.

The data emerged in a series of written Parliamentary answers from Health Minister Dawn Primarolo, following the Government’s recent admission that alcohol-related hospital admissions were four times higher than previous official estimates.

The findings are set to reignite the fierce debate over how to tackle binge drinking and rising alcohol consumption, after Gordon Brown last month rejected calls from the Chief Medical Officer Liam Donaldson called for a radical new minimum price policy to aimed at reducing hospital admissions and saving lives.

Recent figures from the Department of Health showed a similarly dramatic rise in hospital admissions where alcohol was recorded as the main factor – whether causing illness or injury.

Cases have risen by a third since the controversial Licensing Act came into force in November 2005, reaching a record 81,781 last year – of which a staggering 2,168 involved children aged 14 and under.

The Licensing Act has been widely blamed for a rise in booze-fuelled yobbery, as well as health problems, but ministers have rejected all calls for a rethink.

Don Shenker, of Alcohol Concern said the latest figures were ‘worrying’ and urged ministers to take action to tackle the rock-bottom prices of cheap drinks.

He said: ‘Alcohol is 65 per cent more affordable today than it was in the 1980s.’

Leading experts warned MPs last week that as many as 40,000 drinkers are dying every year because of the Government’s failure to curb Britain’s rising alcohol consumption, either through tighter controls on pub opening hours or on cut-price drinks promotions.

Martin Plant, Professor of addiction studies at the University of the West of England, accused supermarkets of having the ‘morality of the crack dealer’ for selling cut-price booze.

And Professor Ian Gilmore, president of the Royal College of Surgeons, warned MPs that based on present trends alcohol is set to overtake smoking as a major cause of premature death in the UK.

source: Mail Online

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