Medics warn over alcohol crisis

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WIGAN health chiefs have reacted with anger and dismay at Government plans to ditch their much-vaunted minimum pricing for alcohol policy.

Ministers were set to introduce a fixed price of 45p per unit in a bid to tackle alcohol abuse.

But it is believed senior Tory party figures are now set against any moves to ramp up the price of booze further and have axed the plan.

However, Wigan health officials say the move damages efforts to promote health living in the borough.

Dr Kate Ardern Executive Director or Public Health for the Borough of Wigan said: “Cheap alcohol is costing public services dearly. We continue to call for the introduction of a minimum unit price (MUP).

“In addition, the government are proposing a number of other ways to slash the number of people drinking to harmful levels, including stronger powers for local areas to control the density of licensed premises, piloting innovative sobriety schemes, reducing young people’s exposure to advertising and reviewing adult drinking guidelines.

“The strategy also suggests a review of the current commitments in the mandatory code, which covers rules such as free tap water in bars and the ban on pouring alcohol directly into a person’s mouth instead of using a glass.

“We fully support a ban on multi-buy promotions and we believe that it is essential to add public health as one of the key objectives within licensing.

“We would endorse a review of potentially tightening up the commitments of companies selling alcohol.”

Recent figures show a unit of alcohol can be bought for as little as 16p in Greater Manchester.

Leigh MP and shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said the u-turn was the latest sign the government was fast slipping into chaos.

He added: “This is a Government that looks more split and chaotic by the day – it doesn’t know whether it’s coming or going.

“If it’s not going ahead with this plan, the Government needs to set out what it’s going to do to tackle the problem of alcohol abuse.”