Drinking ourselves to death

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SHOCK figures have revealed the devastating impact of alcohol on the borough’s health.

A new report by the Centre for Public Health has shown 53 women were killed by alcohol abuse in 2006/08 – a staggering 26%rise compared with 2005/07.

Seventy one men in Wigan died from health problems caused by drinking too much in the same period – although this figure has fallen by 16%.

Hospital admissions in Wigan for alcohol-related harm also soared to 8,279 in 2008/09 – a massive 40% increase in four years.

Health chiefs today said the report highlighted the “tremendous harm” that alcohol continues to have in Wigan and blamed cheap booze offers for the rise in both hospital admissions and female deaths.

Dr Kate Ardern, executive director of public health, said: “This report underlines very clearly the tremendous harm that alcohol continues to do across Greater Manchester including Wigan.

“Among the figures, the report suggests hospital admissions related to alcohol rose by almost 40% in Wigan from 2004/05 to 2008/09.

“It also shows alcohol specific mortality in Wigan women rose by 28% from 2002/04 to 2006/08.

Both these figures illustrate what a serious problem this is.

“The consumption of too much alcohol stands alongside smoking, poor diet and lack of exercise as the major reasons for the poor overall health of the borough. The increase in admissions and female mortality also suggest the situation is getting worse caused in part by the increasing easy access to cheap alcohol.”

The report – entitled Impact of Alcohol in Greater Manchester – was published by the North West Public Health Observatory, at Liverpool John Moores University.

As well as examining hospital admissions and alcohol-related deaths, the report revealed that chronic liver disease claimed the lives of 92 men and 67 women in Wigan in 2006/08.

Ashton, Leigh and Wigan Primary Care Trust (ALWPCT) say a number of innovative initiatives have been launched in Wigan to try to raise awareness of the potential health and social damage caused by drinking too much.

The Trust revealed more GPs and hospital staff have been trained to conduct brief interventions with patients with an spiralling booze problem.

Alcohol specialist nurses have also been appointed to work at Wigan Infirmary – on the wards and in A&E – to identify frequent attenders and to pass them to appropriate services.

The 50 most frequently admitted patients are given the chance to work with the Active Care Management Team, which has seen a massive 60 per cent reduction in their admissions since its launch.

Dr Ardern added: “It is hoped this very targeted and assertive approach will continue to be successful in helping the patients with their drink issues which will benefit the patients and their friends and families.”