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“2020health is an important and thoughtful contributor to the health debate”

Dr Sarah Wollaston MP, Chairman, Health Select Committee

 
 

Echo Essex hospitals treat 40-a-day for alcohol related injuries

FORTY patients a day are being treated for alcohol related problems in Essex hospitals.

Almost 15,000 people were treated in 2012-13, the latest period figures are available for, compared to about 13,000 in 2009/10.

The figures include people who have suffered injury after drinking and people whose disease can be wholly or partially attributed to alcohol.

The rise, both in Essex and nationally, has prompted some to claim those who choose to drink, and then get injured, should be forced to pay for treatment.

Earlier this year Julia Manning, head of the think tank 2020Health, suggested charging repeat patients at accident and emergency wards who have drunk too much.

Figures suggest alcohol is involved in about 14 per cent of illness and injury.

A report by Alcohol Concern suggests almost ten million people receive NHS treatment where alcohol is a factor each year.

It is also claimed alcohol related harm costs about £21billion a year.

However charging one group of people would be a controversial move and represent the start of apportioning blame to injury, illness and subsequent cost.

It could also stop people who need emergency treatment from attending hospital.

Less controversial is the suggestion, by head of the College of Emergency Medicine Dr Cliff Mann, to arrest rather than fine those who become abusive or disorderly in hospital as a result of drinking too much.

Speaking to the Observer he said: “There are no sanctions on people for being a nuisance and for taking up vital A&E resources as a result of their own alcohol excess. Fines have clearly not worked."

The figures for the number of people attending hospital where alcohol is a factor come from the Health and Social Care Information Centre, Hospital Episode Statistics.