30/06/2006

Alcohol-related hospital admissions increase

Drink-related hospital admissions in England have reached record levels, according to NHS statistics.

The report by the Information Centre for health and social care found that the number of people admitted to hospital with a diagnosis of alcoholic liver disease have more than doubled over the past ten years.

There were 35,400 admissions in 2004/05, a massive increase from 14,400 in 1995-96. Twice as many men as women were admitted with the illness.

Death rates linked to the disease have also increased, rising to 4,000 in 2004, an increase of 37% since 1999.

The report also found that cases of hospital admissions of patients with alcoholic poisoning have also increased, rising to 21,700 in 2004-05 compared with 13,600 a decade earlier.

In-patient care for people suffering from mental health or behavioural disorders as a result of alcohol misuse have also increased significantly, rising to 126,300 admissions in 2004-05, from 72,500 in 1995-96 - a rise of 75%.

According to a 2004 survey, three quarters of men interviewed and over half of the women said that they had taken a drink in the previous week.

Young adults were found to be the most likely to binge drink than any other age group, with 33% of men and 24% of women aged between 16 - 24 drinking more than double the recommended number of units (8 for men and 6 for women) on one day in the previous week.

Older adults - those aged between 45 and 64 were more likely to drink smaller amounts regularly, on five or more days of the week.

The report also highlighted the problem of underage drinking. According to a 2005 survey, nearly one in four secondary school children aged between 11 and 15 said that they had drunk alcohol in the week before they were interviewed.

Cider, lager, beer and alcopops were the drinks of choice for this age group, with the average amount consumed doubling between 1990 and 2000 to 10.4 units per week.

Professor Denise Lievesley, the Information Centre's Chief Executive, said: "This report presents a broad picture of drinking habits in England. It shows that we cannot underestimate the effect of alcohol on health. By presenting this data we hope that health professionals will be better equipped to put their work in context and to raise awareness of the dangers of alcohol misuse."

(KMcA/GB)

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