Drinking ourselves to death

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WIGAN’S hospitals are having to cope with 65,000 admissions a year for alcohol-related problems – the highest per head of population in Greater Manchester.

The shocking cost of booze on Wigan’s health services has been revealed as part of an interactive map produced by the Alcohol Concern action group.

As well as the 65,871 hospital admissions last year, the map also shows that alcohol abuse is costing the local NHS £93 per person – way above the North West average of £86.

Only Manchester itself had a higher total number of alcohol related hospital admissions (120,000), but it has a far higher total population – meaning Wigan has more alcohol related admissions per head of population than anywhere else in the North West.

The data includes A&E admissions of revellers injured while out partying, as well as the cost of treating chronic alcohol-related illnesses such as liver disease. For the first time, the figures are broken down for individual cities and towns.

Wigan saw 107 people die in 2010/11 according to the figures and Alcohol Concern’s figures also found that one in four people in the borough are are drinking at a level which increases the risk of damaging their health.

The shocking toll alcohol abuse is taking on the borough has caused concern among politicians and health chiefs.

Yvonne Fovargue , Labour MP for Makerfield, said: “This map highlights the key role of safe drinking guidelines in communicating health messages to the public. It also sets out that Government have much to do in ensuring that health messages are as effective as possible.

“The perception that young people are responsible for the increase in the cost of treating alcohol misuse is not supported by this research for it is the baby boomer generation that accounts for a significant proportion of the identified annual £23million cost of alcohol related admissions to the NHS in Wigan, putting their health at risk often by drinking well in excess of guidelines.

“But the alcohol industry itself needs to take on greater responsibility. I have serious concerns that a business whose role is to make profit from the sale of alcohol can ever be responsible for messages about moderate drinking.”

Wigan health chiefs say they are doing all they can to raise awareness of the risks of alcohol.

Dr Kate Ardern, Executive Director or Public Health for the Borough of Wigan, said: “Alcohol abuse is a major problem across Wigan Borough and leads to a wide range of health and social problems.

“Wigan and Leigh Drug and Alcohol Recovery Services and NHS Greater Manchester West Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust are commissioned to provide a range of services to help people, one of which is the Active Case Management project.

“This scheme engages with higher risk and dependent alcohol users whose alcohol use is impacting so significantly on their health that they are the most frequent people presenting to A&E and being admitted to hospital for alcohol specific issues.

“Once individuals are identified as needing the active case management approach we encourage them to engage with community alcohol recovery services, where they will receive a full and comprehensive assessment of their needs.

“Patients presenting with alcohol specific issues often have complex problems and alcohol treatment can be just a small part of the story for the individual. The approach uses a care-co-ordinator to look at all the factors that could impact upon an individual’s health, well-being and alcohol use, in-order to gain a complete understanding of the support the person needs to reduce their alcohol consumption.

“By offering dedicated care co-ordination, intensive one-to-one support and partnership working with other agencies the approach leads to more effective and co-ordinated treatment.

“This ultimately helps to improve individual’s motivation to remain in treatment, make positive health and lifestyle changes and reduces alcohol specific presentations and admissions at Royal Albert Edward Infirmary. “Anyone worried about their own or someone else’s drink or drug use, or for further information about existing support groups, should contact Wigan and Leigh Drug and Alcohol Recovery Services on 01942 487578 ”. To view the Alcohol Concern map visit: http://www.alcoholconcern.org.uk/campaign/alcohol-harm-map

Alcohol-related hospital admissions in Greater Manchester 2010/11

Manchester - 120,000

Wigan - 65,871

Stockport - 56,681

Salford - 55,117

Rochdale - 51,782

Bolton - 51,177

Oldham - 45,497

Trafford - 45,429

Tameside - 43,132

Bury -33,499U