UK: Alcohol Massive Burden on Health System
Alcohol is a massive burden on the UK health system. According to an NHS report, in 2018 1.3 million people were admitted to hospitals because of alcohol, representing 7.4% of all hospital admissions across the country.
A detailed analysis by UKAT – the UK’s largest private addiction treatment provider – shows:
- The biggest reason for admission into hospital was for Cardiovascular disease, accounting for 645,070 (51%) of all admissions.
- 17% (220,730) of all admissions were for mental and behavioural disorders due to alcohol, conditions which include acute intoxication, heavy alcohol use, dependence to alcohol and withdrawal from alcohol.
- Other conditions for hospital admission due to alcohol include breast cancer, alcohol poisoning, and alcoholic liver disease.
According to NHS data:
- The number of people admitted to hospital because of alcohol has risen by 60%. This number has risen year on year for a decade.
- In 2018/19, over 1.2 million people were admitted to hospital where the primary reason or secondary diagnosis was linked to alcohol consumption, 8% more than the previous year and 60% more than in 2008/09.
- Almost half of all people admitted (47%) were aged between 55 and 74.
- Just under two-thirds of all admissions were male.
- In 2018, 5,698 people died due to alcohol consumption, a 7% rise in ten years.
- Over 170,000 prescribed drugs were issued in 2018, 27% more than in 2008 to combat alcohol-related conditions and diseases.
UK government policy inaction leads to more alcohol harm
A previous scientific study found that 1 in 10 people in the UK hospital system are alcohol dependent and 1 in 5 are using alcohol at-risk level.
Despite the harm, the UK government has been inactive in policy action to tackle alcohol harm; even worse, certain policy decisions have been taken that further worsen the problems, such as the tax cuts and tax freezing on alcohol since 2012. A study found that these tax cuts led to at least 2000 more alcohol-related deaths.
Public health organizations have been calling for stronger policy action by the government to reduce the rising alcohol harm and yet, there has been no response by the government.
This country’s problem with alcohol is a ticking time bomb about to explode.
The NHS is crippling under pressures directly attributable to […] alcohol; what will it take to make the Government sit up, listen and take effective action? Why do we still not have an Alcohol-specific Strategy, as promised back in 2018?
It is a huge problem and one that needs immediately addressed as a matter of urgency,” said Nuno Albuquerque, Group Treatment Lead at UKAT, as per, Health Europa.