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Alcohol admissions in England at highest ever level, once more

04 February 2020 – Alcohol admissions rates to English hospitals have reached all-time highs yet again, according to the latest update of the Local Alcohol Profiles for England tool.

In 2018/19, alcohol-related hospital admissions* by the broad measure (where the reason for hospital admission or a secondary diagnosis was linked to alcohol) jumped up 8% on the previous year, from 1.17 million to a record 1.26 million. The rate also increased from 2,224 admissions per 100,000 persons in 2017/18 to 2,367 (per 100,000) in 2018/19, part of a decade-long upward trend.

England also reached new all-time highs in alcohol-related hospital admissions by the narrow measure (where only the main reason for admission to hospital was attributable to alcohol) too: there were an estimated 358,000 admissions in 2018/19, up from 337,870 the previous year, and the rate rose to a record 664 admissions (per 100,000) in 2018/19.

There were 336,314 alcohol-specific hospital admissions, up from 304,073 the previous year. The rate of admissions increased from 570 (per 100,000) in 2017/18 to 626 (per 100,000), also the highest since records began, with males seeing a bigger annual increase on the previous year compared with females.

With both broad and narrow measures of alcohol-related admissions, regional disparities persisted between the South East, which has the lowest rates and the North East, which has the highest. Zooming in on specific clinical constituencies, Stoke-on-Trent had the highest admissions rate at 1,130 per 100,000 population in 2018/19, while East Sussex had the lowest rate at 320.

Despite there being a long-term decline in admissions rates among children – in the three-year period 2016/17 to 2018/19, the rate fell from 32.9 to 31.6 (per 100,000) – more girls were admitted to hospital for alcohol-specific reasons than boys in 2018/19. For the same period, the admission rate for girls was 37.5 (per 100,000) compared with 25.9 (per 100,000) for boys.

Commenting on the figures, Chief Executive of the Institute of Alcohol Studies Katherine Severi said:

'The data released today reflect a national picture of increasing rates of alcohol harm.

'These harmful drinking trends are driven by a combination of alcohol becoming increasingly affordable and accessible, and marketing by a powerful industry that fails to provide health information to consumers about the risks associated with its products. Only a small minority of alcohol labels carry the latest advice from our Chief Medical Officers and in England alcohol is often cheaper than bottled water.

'As a result, alcohol is now the leading cause of death and disability for 15-49-year-olds, putting huge strain on the NHS and public services.

'A new approach to pricing, marketing and support for those affected by alcohol harm is needed from this new government to address this issue that affects millions of families each year.'

Middle-aged drinking dangerously

NHS Digital's also released their latest Statistics on England survey results of people’s drinking habits.

Drinkers aged 55 to 64 years were most likely to consume alcohol at a higher risk: 38% of men and 19% of women of that age group reported ‘usually drinking’ over 14 units in a week.

In 2018, there were 5,698 alcohol-specific deaths, 2% lower than 2017, but 7% up on a decade ago. The alcohol-specific age-standardised death rates per 100,000 population were twice the rate for males (14.8) compared with females (6.9).

In total, two thirds (67%) of deaths were among men. The number of deaths per age cohort peaked at 50-59 years, before falling. 77% of deaths were in the age range 40-69.

Alcoholic liver disease accounted for four fifths (79%) of the 5,698 alcohol-specific deaths.

In addition to alcohol-specific deaths, 1,920 deaths were due to unspecified hepatitis and fibrosis and cirrhosis of the liver (defined separately as partially attributable).

As with the LAPE, the NHS figures revealed a geographical divide – age-standardised death rates are highest in the North (East and West) and lower in London and the South.

Please read our Twitter thread below for more coverage of the LAPE data. 

 

* alcohol-related morbidity / mortality includes partially attributable admissions / deaths. Alcohol-specific mortality / morbidity does not.