YOUNG BRISTOL DRINKERS ADMITTED TO HOSPITAL WITH ALCOHOL POISONING
HOSPITALS across Bristol are under pressure from hundreds of admissions as a result of alcohol-poisoning – including more than 60 cases involving children.
The Department of Health figures released in the House of Commons show that there were 1,510 admissions in 2012-13 where alcohol poisoning was identified as the primary or secondary diagnosis.
While most cases involved adults, 62 admissions involved youngsters under the age of 18. Of those, 18 were aged between 11 and 16.
University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the city centre hospitals, had 970 people admitted with alcohol-poisoning, including 40 minors. North Bristol NHS Trust, in charge of Southmead and Frenchay during the time covered by the statistics, recorded 540 comparable admissions, of which 22 were children.
Figures for the same year showed there were 3,748 alcohol abuse-related admissions among children younger than 18 years old in England, of which 52 were under 11.
Labour MP Kerry McCarthy said it was regrettable that the Government scrapped plans to introduce a minimum pricing on alcohol.
The Bristol East MP said: “It’s worrying to see the number of people being admitted to hospital in Bristol due to alcohol poisoning, particularly young people under the age of 18 and even 16.”
Ms McCarthy said more needed to be done to educate young people about the dangers of drinking too much, as well as greater support for local services, which can help problem drinkers overcome their addiction.
A commitment to introduce a 45p minimum unit price for alcohol to deter youngsters and other drinkers from buying cheap alcohol was axed by the coalition in July last year, following lobbying by the drinks industry.
Earlier this year, the Government adopted a new approach, introducing a ban on the sale of alcohol below cost price (defined as the level of alcohol duty plus VAT), meaning that a can of average strength lager can now not be sold for less than 40p, while a standard bottle of vodka cannot be sold for less than £8.89.
The figures, which came in answer to a parliamentary question, show that there were also 21,401 admissions in 2012-13, where substance abuse was identified as the primary or secondary diagnosis, including 426 cases involving under-18s.
Maggie Telfer, chief executive of the Bristol Drugs Project, said the figures indicated that Bristol appeared to have a similar number of hospital admissions to other cities of a similar size.