Bingeing to death

News story
News story

St Helens’ drink problem is laid bare in a new report today which shows the borough has one the highest bills for treating booze-related conditions in the country.

An astonishing one in five people is said to be drinking to a level which will damage their health.

The figures compiled by Alcohol Concern and released in the form of an interactive map paint a grim picture of the town’s alcohol issues.

The average cost of treating alcohol-related health issues in St Helens is £96 per person – the third highest in the country. The North West average is £78.

However, St Helens had 55,498 admissions to hospital due to alcohol-related issues – which is below the North West average of 65,400.

Alcohol also claims 94 lives a year in St Helens – again

lower than the North West average of 152.

The total cost of alcohol to the borough stands at £2.9m a year – the North West average is £4.3m.

Nationally, 10 million people a year are receiving NHS treatment because of alcohol.

While A&E admissions accounted for six in every 10 alcohol-related hospital visits, inpatient admissions were responsible for almost two thirds of the total cost burden.

Director of Public Health Liz Gaulton said: “Harm from alcohol is entirely preventable.

“People often think that as long as they are still able to go to work or cope with their responsibilities at home, they don’t need to think about how alcohol is affecting them or their families. However, drinking alcohol above recommended levels can damage almost every part of the body, for example heart problems, high blood pressure, head and neck cancers, and stroke.

“The good news is that free, sensitive, confidential support is available in St Helens from trained professionals and people who have experienced similar challenges.”

In England as a whole the figures suggest that drinking is attributable for almost half of all head and neck cancer inpatient admissions at a cost to the NHS of £65.3m.

Alcohol Concern chief executive, Jackie Ballard, said: “The NHS is now facing an intolerable strain from alcohol-related illnesses. This is not just from readily-identifiable causes such as A&E visits and admissions for liver disease, but from a significant number of other conditions in which alcohol plays a major, but often under-appreciated part.”

“We need to ensure adequate alcohol care pathways are prioritised and appropriate services are put in place to ease this burden.

“However, we also urgently need action to prevent alcohol misuse; the first and most effective of which is for the Government to implement a minimum unit price, which has the potential to save the economy millions, and most importantly save lives.”

For free confidential advice and non-judgemental support about your drinking, call Addaction on: 01744 610 555.

If you are affected by someone else’s drinking, please call Footsteps on 01744 808 212.