NHS figures released this week show an 11% increase in the number of alcohol related hospital admissions in the last decade. The data relates to England and confirms that in 2010/11 there were 1,173,386 admissions compared to 2009/2010 figure of 1,056,962. The figure in 2002/03 was 510,780.
Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley commented on the figures being ”disturbing evidence that, despite total consumption of alcohol not increasing recently we have serious problems with both binge drinking and long-term excessive alcohol abuse in a minority of people”. He confirmed that a new government strategy to deal with the issue would be outlined in the new year.
A report published by NHS Scotland estimates that the number of drug users in Scotland has risen by 4000 since 2006. The main increase in drug use is amongst people over 35 where the number has gone up by a third. The rise in the older generation is being cited as due to poverty and welfare cuts. The overall number of drug users is now estimated at 61,000.
In the age group 35-64 the report estimates 1 in every 100 people is now a drug user in comparison to 1 in 95 in 2006. Drug usage in those between 15-24 years and 25-34 years have both dropped during this period.
Glasgow City Council reported the highest number of individuals with problem drug use with the figure estimated at 13,900.
When asked about the rise Community Safety Minister Roseanna Cunningham conceded that these statistics were “unacceptably high.” However she was encouraged that less young people in Scotland were abusing drugs although this does suggest that Scotland is faced with “a long legacy of drug use.”
The NHS have released today the latest figures on smoking, drinking and drug use among young people in England. The survey called Smoking, drinking and drug use among young people in England in 2010 surveyed over 7000 school pupils aged between 11-15 years old.
The research reveals that not only are fewer young people drinking and taking drugs but their tolerance of their peers that do is lessening. Of those surveyed 13% admitted that they had consumed alcohol in the last week compared to 26% in 2003. The figures also showed a significant drop in drug usage. When asked if they had even taken drugs 18% answered yes compared to 29% in 2001
Chief executive of The NHS Information Centre Tim Straughan said the finding were encouraging and showed not only a difference in behaviour but also attitude: “Our figures point to an increasingly intolerant attitude among young people in today’s society when it comes to the use of cigarettes, alcohol and drugs.” He further added “As well as a reduction in the percentage who say they partake in these behaviours; a shrinking number think that drinking and drunkenness is acceptable among their peers.”
At the recent NHS conference in Manchester, Alan Higgins, Director of Public Health for Oldham, confirmed that a draft bylaw on minimum pricing for alcohol has been proposed across the Greater Manchester area. At present it has not been accepted by all 10 councils however it is recognised that action needs to be taken to curb the level of alcohol consumption in England. In the last 10 years alcohol consumption has gone up by 10% and alcohol related hospital admissions have risen 107% between 2002-03 and 2009-10.
When the Scottish Parliament reconvenes after the summer it is expected that the newly re-elected SNP will pass a bill which will place a minimum price of 45p per unit of alcohol. The proposal in England is 50p per unit.
A BMA (British Medical Association) survey in Scotland has revealed that 6% of all GP consultations are related to alcohol. This is costing the NHS in Scotland £28m a year.
The study was carried out last month over one day found that 5500 consultations involved alcohol. Based on that figure it means that Scottish GP’s deal with 1.4 million alcohol related consultations a year which costs the NHS more than £28m
Dr Alan McDevitt, deputy chairman of the BMA’s Scottish GPs Committee warned ”Those who suffer from alcohol-related health problems are not just alcoholics or heavy binge drinkers. By regularly drinking over and above recommended limits, a significant proportion of the adult population is at risk of experiencing health problems linked to the alcohol they consume.”