Wigan’s booze shame

Alcohol concern
Alcohol concern
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WIGAN’S drink problem is laid bare in a new report today which shows the borough has the highest number of booze-related hospital admissions in the whole of the North West.

An astonishing one in five people is said to be drinking to a level which will damage their health.

The figures compiled by Alcohol Concern and released in the form of an interactive map paint a grim picture of the borough’s alcohol issues.

Wigan had 76,702 admissions to hospital due to alcohol-related issues - 17.2 per cent higher than the North West average of 65,400.

The average cost of treating alcohol related health issues in Wigan is £84 per person. The North West average is £78.

Alcohol also claims 166 lives a year in Wigan - the North West average is 152.

The total cost of alcohol to the borough stands at £5.69m a year - the North West average is £4.3m.

Health chiefs say they are working hard to improve the situation.

Professor Kate Ardern, director of public health at Wigan Council, said: “These figures are clearly too high but I’d like to stress our own health statistics show alcohol harm is decreasing in Wigan borough, which suggests we are heading in the right direction.

“We are not unique in Greater Manchester in having high figures in this area and that’s why the Combined Authority recently launched an alcohol strategy aimed at tackling the impact of alcohol abuse and excessive drinking.

“We are doing a lot of work to address the issues of alcohol abuse ourselves in Wigan Borough. We have specialist teams working with adults and young people to reduce alcohol harm and I believe this will be reflected in published figures in the future.”

Nationally, 10 million people a year are receiving NHS treatment because of alcohol.

While A&E admissions accounted for six in every 10 alcohol-related hospital visits, inpatient admissions were responsible for almost two thirds of the total cost burden.

In England as a whole the figures suggest that drinking is attributable for almost half of all head and neck cancer inpatient admissions at a cost to the NHS of £65.3m.

Alcohol Concern chief executive, Jackie Ballard, said: “The NHS is now facing an intolerable strain from alcohol-related illnesses. This is not just from readily-identifiable causes such as A&E visits and admissions for liver disease, but from a significant number of other conditions in which alcohol plays a major, but often underappreciated part.”

“We need to ensure adequate alcohol care pathways are prioritised and appropriate services are put in place to ease this burden.

However, we also urgently need action to prevent alcohol misuse; the first and most effective of which is for the Government to implement a minimum unit price, which has the potential to save the economy millions, and most importantly save lives.”