New figures released today show that hospital admissions due to alcohol are at their highest ever levels.
The data, summarised in a release from NHS Digital, shows that alcohol-related hospital admissions in England have increased by 64% over the last decade, with an extra 430,000 people being admitted due to alcohol-related causes in 2015/16 compared with 2005/06.
This takes the total number of alcohol-related hospital admissions to over 1.1 million in 2015/16.
Alcohol is linked to over 60 illnesses and diseases, including heart disease, liver disease and cancer. Figures from the local alcohol profiles for England show that admissions due to liver disease have gone up 57% over the last decade, and that the number of people diagnosed with alcohol-related cancer has increased 8%.
In contrast, separate data released today by the Office of National Statistics shows that the proportion of adults drinking is at its lowest level since 2005, with younger people more likely to be abstaining from alcohol. However, 7.8 million people admit to binge drinking on their heaviest drinking day.
In response to the figures, alcohol health experts called for more to be done in the UK to tackle the health harm done by alcohol.
Liver doctor Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance UK (AHA), said:
“These figures show that the UK continues to have a dysfunctional relationship with alcohol.
“We know that over the long term, rates of binge drinking are falling, and more people are choosing to abstain from alcohol.
“Worryingly, however, these trends do not appear big enough to stop alcohol harm from continuing to rise, and the sharp increase in alcohol-related hospital admissions over the last few years means hundreds of thousands more people each year are experiencing the misery associated with harmful alcohol consumption.
“The data released today should be sobering reading for whoever wins the upcoming general election, and we would urge the next government to make tackling alcohol harm an immediate priority to save lives, reduce harm, and reduce the pressure on the NHS.”