UK: Alcohol Harm Will Rise Unless Policy Action Is Taken
Public health organizations in the United Kingdom warn that the country will continue on an “alarming trajectory” of alcohol-related ill health and deaths unless the government prioritizes policy action to tackle the issue.
A letter from the British Medical Association (BMA) and Royal Colleges argues that the government lacks strategic focus in dealing with alcohol harm.
Lack of strategic alcohol policy focus fuels alcohol deaths
The number of alcohol-related hospital admissions has risen each year by more than 100,000 since 2014/15, while fewer people are accessing treatment, the letter states.
The group calls on public health minister Seema Kennedy to formulate a new alcohol strategy.
The cumulative effect of increasingly affordable alcohol, marketing and cuts to public health budgets means we are now witnessing a dangerous trend of increases in hospital-related admissions and alcohol-specific deaths alongside less people seeking treatment or help.”
The case for a new alcohol strategy could not be clearer and failure to tackle the increasing severity of this issue will mean that we will continue on this alarming trajectory resulting in more alcohol-related ill health and deaths,” said Professor Dame Parveen Kumar, BMA board of science chairwoman, as per Sky News.
The last government alcohol strategy was published in 2012. Since then, local authorities have been responsible for commissioning alcohol treatment services.
Alcohol harm in the UK
As per the WHO, the total per capita alcohol consumption in the UK is 11.4 liters which is above the WHO European regional average – and Europe is the heaviest alcohol consuming region in the world. Over half (52.4%) the alcohol using youth between 15 to 19 years engage in heavy episodic alcohol use.
In UK Alcohol causes,
- 10,000+ cancer deaths.
- 5000+ deaths due to liver cirrhosis.
Prevalence of alcohol use disorder is also very high, with 13% of men being affected, which is above the regional average.
Recently it was revealed in a study that one in 10 people in a hospital bed are alcohol-dependent and one in five are harming themselves by their alcohol consumption.
The health services in the UK are struggling to cope with the numbers of people being brought to A&E or mental health units due to alcohol use.
It is evident that the government needs to take strong policy action to better prevent and reduce alcohol harm in the UK as continuously called for by public health experts.