Northumberland's alcohol-related hospital admissions are 'ticking time bomb about to explode'
The rise in the number of alcohol-related hospital admissions across Northumberland has been compared to a “ticking time bomb about to explode”.
The near 21% increase over the last six years equates to more than 1,600 additional cases during the 2018-19 year.
The UK Addiction Treatment (UKAT) figures, which are compiled from National Health Service (NHS) statistics, indicate that 9,430 people from the county received treatment during 2018-19 where the primary reason or a secondary diagnosis was linked to alcohol.
This compares to the 7,820 patients who were admitted on similar grounds during 2012-13.
Conditions for hospital admission due to alcohol include cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, alcohol poisoning and alcoholic liver disease.
Nuno Albuquerque, group treatment lead at UKAT, urged the Government to adopt an alcohol-specific strategy, adding: “The problem with alcohol across the North East is a ticking time bomb about to explode.
“NHS hospitals here are crippling under pressures directly attributable to the misuse of alcohol, a drug that is so socially accepted yet so incredibly dangerous.
“People here are seemingly struggling with their alcohol consumption, consuming so much alcohol that it is leading to hospitalisation and the diagnosis of further debilitating
conditions, yet the Government continues to have their heads buried in the sand.”
Northumberland’s 21% rise was above the overall 15% increase regionally.
The area with the largest rise in the North East was Stockton with a 44% increase from 4,500 admissions in 2012-13 to 6,490 in 2018-19.
Men accounted for 49,790 (64%) of the regional figures with 27,670 (36%) women also admitted in the 12 months to the end of March.
Public health minister Jo Churchill said: “We are determined to do more to support people who are most vulnerable or at risk from alcohol misuse which has a terrible impact on their lives and their families.
“As part of our NHS Long Term Plan, alcohol care teams will be introduced in hospitals with the highest number of alcohol-related admissions and we expect this to prevent 50,000 admissions from alcohol related harm over five years.”
Judith Stonebridge, public health consultant at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Improving the health of our local population is a key priority for our trust and reducing alcohol-related harm is an integral part
of this work.
“It should be noted, however, that the rise in alcohol-related admissions may be attributed, at least in part, to better recognition of those with alcohol-related illness and instigating appropriate admission to hospital and treatment.
“The intervention of our specialist alcohol care team, which identifies and starts treatment for patients with alcohol dependence, is helping to reduce the likelihood of future ill-health among patients and them being readmitted to
hospital for alcohol-related conditions.
“Alongside supporting and treating people whose health is adversely affected by alcohol, we have a range of initiatives in place to help prevent alcohol-related illness, working with partners in Northumberland and North Tyneside.
“This includes raising awareness about the harms of alcohol, particularly to children, young people and pregnant women, and also identifying and supporting people who may be at risk.”