In Brief

Alcohol-related A&E admissions 'up 50%' in less than a decade

New study shows emergency admissions caused by alcohol top 250,000 a year in England

Statistics released by the Nuffield Trust have revealed that accident and emergency hospital admissions caused by alcohol in England have risen by more than 50 per cent since 2006, and now account for more than 250,000 patients per year.

The findings also show that the predominant group being treated for the effects of binge drinking is young females aged between 15 and 19, which is 1.4 times as many as young men in the same age group, reports the BBC. The overall majority of A&E admissions occur in men aged 45-64.

Alarmingly, roughly half of the A&E admissions due to alcohol happen on Friday, Saturday or Sunday night, between the hours of midnight and 2:00am.

Claire Currie, the study's co-author, says that this time of year is critical in terms of alcohol abuse in the community. "With the Christmas party season in full swing, it's worth considering the full burden over-indulgence in alcohol is placing on our NHS, as well as the obvious human cost," she told the BBC.

Dr Clifford Mann, president of the College of Emergency Medicine, warned that alcohol was currently cheaper than bottled water and said that many young people were risking their health by 'preloading' on cheap drink before going out to bars and clubs. He has called for a minimum pricing of 50p per unit, telling the Daily Telegraph:

"The pattern of alcohol intoxication has changed significantly in the past 10 years. No longer do people set out sober, in the early evening, to attend licensed establishments where they consume alcohol.

"Instead the phenomenon of 'preloading' has become endemic. In consequence, people, especially young people, purchase relatively cheap but potent forms of alcohol and drink large quantities at home.”

Despite this, figures from the Office for National Statistics suggest binge-drinking among young adults in Britain is continuing to fall. More than a fifth of UK adults now say they do not drink alcohol at all.

The BBC has also reported that while figures around alcohol-related A&E admissions are increasing in England, they are stabilising in Wales and reducing in Scotland.

A government spokesman told the BBC: "People should always drink alcohol responsibly – very busy ambulance services and A&E staff can do without this extra demand.

"The government has taken action to tackle cheap alcohol by banning the lowest priced drinks and we are already seeing fewer young people drinking on a regular basis."

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