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Alcohol-related deaths in England continue to fall, but concerns persist about regional inequalities

New figures from Public Health England (PHE) show a continuing benefit from lower levels of national alcohol consumption. However, concerns remain about the impact of alcohol on health inequalities, as deaths in areas of deprivation continue to rise.

The newly updated Local Alcohol Profiles for England (LAPE) indicators, published April 29, show an overall drop in alcohol-related deaths and hospital admissions rates. However, there are wide disparities in alcohol-related health outcomes at a regional level, which raises concerns about the impact alcohol is having on health inequalities. The figures also show that women are not experiencing health gains at the same rate as men.

According to the data, there were 21,485 alcohol related deaths in England in 2012. This represents a 0.4% decrease on 2011, and continues a downward trend in alcohol related mortality in England since 2008. The decrease in the number of alcohol-related deaths between 2011 and 2012 was seen mainly amongst men, as female deaths remained relatively constant over the same period (see figure 1).

Figure 1: Alcohol-related mortality

 

Hospital admissions for alcohol-related conditions remain at similar levels with over a million admissions in England between 2012 and 2013 (see figure 2).

Figure 2: Alcohol-related hospital admissions


At local authority level, the LAPE data depicts the huge variations between affluent and deprived areas, with some of the most deprived communities seeing an increase in deaths. Of the 326 local authorities included in the data, 145 have seen an increase in alcohol-related deaths among men and 154 among women, compared with the last update in 2012.

When ranked across all alcohol indicators, the areas with the best alcohol health outcomes were situated mainly in England’s southern regions. Figure 3 below shows that four out of the five local authorities with the lowest rates of alcohol-related mortality for men and women were situated in the south of the country, with Suffolk local authorities (Babergh, St Edmundsbury, Suffolk Coastal, Mid Suffolk) having particularly low rates of alcohol related deaths. The local authorities with the highest rates of alcohol-related mortality were situated mainly in the North West, with Liverpool among the worst five areas for both sexes.


Figure 3: Alcohol-related mortality rates by local authority


Hospital admissions rates tell a similar story. With the exception of Rushcliffe, the areas with the lowest alcohol-related hospital admissions rates were all situated in the south of England, most notably Wokingham in Berkshire and Chiltern in Buckinghamshire. The regions with the highest alcohol-related hospital admissions rates were concentrated entirely in the North West and North East of the country, notable examples including Liverpool, Manchester and Salford in the North West and Middlesbrough in the North East (see figure 4).


Figure 4: Alcohol-related hospital admissions rates by local authority


Professor Kevin Fenton, Director of Health and Wellbeing at PHE said:

“We welcome the continuing decline in alcohol related deaths nationally but current levels of harm caused by alcohol remain unacceptably high, especially those in deprived communities, who are not seeing reductions.

“Much of this harm is preventable and we need further action at a national and local level to implement the most effective evidence based policies. Public Health England will continue to provide leadership and support to enable this and reduce the devastating harm that alcohol can cause to individuals, families and communities.” 

Visit the LAPE website to download the full dataset.