Most people enjoy a drink socially but excess alcohol consumption is costing this country dear. We are not talking about the average social drinker but the persistent binge drinkers who abuse the system. Too much time and money is being spent on drunks taken into hospital A&E Departments, valuable resources and staff time could be better spent on legitimate patients, and genuine accident victims. Alcohol misuse is a major cause of attendance at A&E departments and hospital admissions. Drink related cases have more than doubled in the last 15 years. Our research shows that around 70% of A&E attendances between midnight and 5am on weekend nights are likely to be alcohol related. The ambulance service and paramedics have a heavy burden to carry day after day, sometimes dealing with violent and abusive behaviour, their training and dedication was not meant for this.
The NHS incurs £3.5 billion a year in costs related to alcohol. Simon Stevens the Chief Executive for NHS England, has suggested that alcohol pricing should be an immediate priority for the Government. Our members believe fines should be imposed to hit their pockets, if they can afford to drink they can afford a fine for the costs to the NHS.
Reply from:-Department of Health
The Government recognises that excessive drinking of alcohol places significant strain on the NHS, in particular on A&E departments. However, for all those entitled to use the NHS its services are free of charge and available on the basis of need. Deterring people from using the NHS could put their health at risk and may potentially increase the long-term cost to the NHS as well as other social costs. The Government also knows that treatment for people who use alcohol can be very effective in reducing health harms and can save money. More generally, ministers agree that alcohol is a major public health issue and it is determined to reduce the harms to health caused by drinking too much. However, they want to do this without disadvantaging those who drink sensibly. In July 2014 the minister met alcohol industry representatives to agree a series of pledges in support of the Department of Health’s voluntary partnership with that industry. These pledges include a commitment by retailers to the responsible display and promotion of alcohol in shops and supermarkets.
Everyone including the NHS and public services, alcohol retailers, producers and pubs and individual consumers, has a role to play in reducing the harmful use of alcohol. Ministers want people to know how they can make a difference to their own health. The Government is taking the lead in making it easier for them to do so. Although deaths caused by alcohol have been falling since 2008, the Government is concerned that the UK is still drinking too much as a nation, and the variations across the UK are unacceptable. Drinking too much alcohol can have a devastating effect on health, causing liver disease, obesity and cancer, as well as costing the NHS billions in treatment and drugs. That is why the Chief Medical Officer for England, Professor Dame Sally Davies, has recently updated the UK guidelines for low risk drinking, making it clear that men and women are advised they do not drink more than 14 units of alcohol a week if they want to keep their risk of harm low.