The Prime Minister today met doctors, nurses, paramedics and local police on a visit to a hospital in the North East to highlight the cost of alcohol to the NHS.
Figures today show an ever-growing bill to the NHS which currently stands at £2.7bn a year, including £1bn on accident and emergency services. £2.7bn equates to £90 for every taxpayer. This is part of a wider cost to society from alcohol of between £17 billion and £22 billion per annum.
In 2010/11 alone there were 200,000 hospital admissions with a primary alcohol-related diagnosis, 40 per cent higher than in 2002/03. The number of patients admitted with acute intoxification has more than doubled to 18,500 since 2002/03.
Ahead of the visit the Prime Minister said:
Every night, in town centres, hospitals and police stations across the country, people have to cope with the consequences of alcohol abuse. And the problem is getting worse. Over the last decade we’ve seen a frightening growth in the number of people - many under-age - who think it’s acceptable for people to get drunk in public in ways that wreck lives, spread fear and increase crime.
This is one of the scandals of our society and I am determined to deal with it. As figures today show the NHS is having to pick up an ever-growing bill - £2.7bn a year, including £1bn on accident and emergency services alone. That’s money we have to spend because of the reckless behaviour of an irresponsible minority.
Across the country local hospitals, ambulance crews and the police are rising to the challenge. We must help them to do so and will be setting out how through the forthcoming Alcohol Strategy. Whether it’s the police officers in A&E that have been deployed in some hospitals, the booze buses in Soho and Norwich, or the Drunk Tanks used abroad, we need innovative solutions to confront the rising tide of unacceptable behaviour.
This isn’t just about more rules and regulation. It’s about responsibility and a sense of respect for others. This is an area where the drinks industry, supermarkets, pubs and clubs need to work with government so that responsible drinking becomes a reality and not just a slogan.