Govt urged to curb cheap alcohol as NHS costs rise

Campaigners are urging the Government to do more to control the price and availability of alcohol, after new statistics showed that the cost of treating alcohol dependence is rising.

Data published yesterday by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) showed there were over one million hospital admissions related to alcohol consumption in 2012-2013.

And the cost to the NHS of drugs to treat alcohol dependence rose to over £3 million last year, the figures revealed.

Consumed

The researchers measured alcohol consumption in study participants in the week prior to being interviewed for the report.

Over half of the men and women who drank alcohol consumed more than the recommended daily amount.

Eric Appleby, Chief Executive of Alcohol Concern, said: “More than half of those who drink do so at risky levels, this isn’t just binge drinking youngsters but older, professional people who think nothing of drinking a few glasses of wine most nights.

Problems

“And it’s this regular drinking of a bit too much too often that stores up all sorts of health problems.”

He called for the Government to introduce minimum unit pricing.

“It is the key evidence based measure which we know will save lives and cut crime across the whole population”, he said.

U-turned

Last summer the Government U-turned over its plans to set a minimum price per unit of alcohol at 45p, which would have set a 9.4 unit bottle of wine at £4.22.

Instead, a ban on selling cheap alcohol came into force in England and Wales this week, preventing alcohol from being sold cheaper than the cost of duty on the alcohol plus VAT – this puts a 9.4 unit bottle of wine at £2.24.

The aim is to prevent heavy discounting in stores, but campaigners say the new structure is too “watered down” to make a difference.

Appleby warned that the “stuff that causes the most harm”, such as large bottles of super strength cider, would not be affected.

Related Resources