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338,000 admitted to hospital as a result of alcohol in 2017/18

There were 338,000 admissions to hospital in 2017/18 where the main cause was due to drinking alcohol, according to new figures published today.

The figures, which have been published as part of Statistics on Alcohol, England 2019 reveal that this was similar to 2016/17 and 15% higher than a decade ago. Alcohol related admissions still account for a similar percentage of overall hospital admissions (2.1% in 2017/18, 2.1% in 2016/17 and 2.3% in 2007/08).

This is based on the narrow measure where an alcohol-related disease, injury or condition was the primary reason for a hospital admission or there was an alcohol-related external cause. A broader measure that looks at a range of other conditions that could be caused by alcohol shows 1.2 million admissions in 2017/18 although due to improvements in coding this is less comparable through time.

People aged 45 or over accounted for 69% of admissions where the main cause was due to alcohol.

Other statistics included in the report show:

  • There were 5,800 alcohol-specific deaths in 2017, which was 6% higher than 2016 and an increase of 16% on 2007.
  • Alcoholic liver disease accounted for 80% of the alcohol specific deaths in 2017.
  • 21% of people aged 16 and over drank more than 14 units of alcohol a week in 2017.
  • Adults in higher income households were more likely to drink over 14 units in a usual week (27%) than those in lower income households (15%) in 2017.
  • However, alcohol specific death rates were highest in the most deprived areas (30.1 deaths per 100,000 people for men and 13.5 for women), and lowest in the least deprived areas (7.0 deaths per 100,000 people for men and 4.0 for women).
  • Girls (11%) aged 11 to 15 were more likely to have been drunk in the last four weeks than boys (7%) in 2016.
  • 76,000 people were treated for problematic drinking in 2017/18, this was 6% lower than in 2016/17.

Responding to the figures, Vanessa Hebditch Director of Policy and Communications at the Trust said, “These statistics are alarming.   Whilst there are many other causes of liver disease that are not related to alcohol, it is still the major reason for the massive increase in prevalence that we are seeing across the UK. The British Liver Trust is working with other leading health organisations to call on the government to outline concrete measures to moderate harmful drinking and address the million-plus alcohol-related hospital admissions each year in England. Without tangible counter measures alcohol is set to cost the NHS £17 billion in the next five years alone. A common myth is that you have to be an ‘alcoholic’ to damage your liver. The truth is that around one in five people in the UK currently drink alcohol in way that could be harmful.”

Newly published data in this compendium comes from the Public Health England Local Area Profiles for England, which uses data from NHS Digital’s Hospital Episode Statistics.

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