Alarming Rise in Alcohol-Related Hospital Admissions in Newcastle

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Newcastle is experiencing a concerning increase in hospital admissions related to alcohol, with rates now double those seen in other major English cities, according to recent health data.

Statistics presented at a recent health and wellbeing board meeting indicate a 45% rise in alcohol-specific hospital admissions from 2016/17 to 2022/23. The number of admissions surged from 2,050 to 2,968 during this period, resulting in a rate of 1,152.3 alcohol-specific hospital admissions per 100,000 people, the highest among England’s core cities.

In comparison, Leeds and Sheffield report significantly lower rates of 553.4 and 557.7 per 100,000 people, respectively. Other cities such as Manchester (842.3), Birmingham (773.4), and Nottingham (773.2) also fall well below Newcastle’s alarming figures.

Health Officials Raise Concerns

Newcastle’s public health director expressed serious concerns about the city’s drinking habits, highlighting that half of the population consumes alcohol in harmful ways. There has been a notable shift towards increased home drinking since the Covid-19 pandemic, exacerbating the problem.

The health director emphasised the severe health risks associated with alcohol, which contributes to seven types of cancer, and stressed that no level of drinking is safe. They called for alcohol to be treated with the same level of concern as tobacco, advocating for measures to reduce its consumption.

Impact on Youth and Deprived Areas

The data also revealed troubling trends among Newcastle’s youth, with the rate of alcohol-specific hospital admissions for individuals under 18 at 34.4 per 100,000, compared to the national average of 26 per 100,000.

The worst-affected areas are some of Newcastle’s most deprived, including Byker and Walkergate, where hospital admission rates due to alcohol range between 2,400 and 2,600 per 100,000 people.

Calls for Policy Changes and Community Action

A representative from Healthwatch Newcastle compared the availability of alcohol in Newcastle to Edinburgh, noting the influence of bottomless brunches and multibuy deals in the North East. In Scotland, stricter regulations, including a minimum alcohol price set to rise from 50p to 65p per unit, have been implemented to curb excessive drinking.

Newcastle Hospitals’ communications and corporate affairs director highlighted the additional strain on the NHS due to intoxicated individuals attending local festivals, calling for community-wide efforts to address this issue.

The deputy principal of Newcastle College suggested that Newcastle may need to reconsider its “party city” image. They proposed the formation of a city-wide taskforce to combat alcohol abuse, a move supported by the public health director, who identified in-home drinking and the availability of cheap alcohol as primary issues. They advocated for the introduction of minimum pricing in England as a potential solution.

Economic and Social Costs

A report to the health and wellbeing board suggested that implementing a 50p minimum unit price in the North East could prevent 1,970 deaths over the next 20 years, reduce hospital admissions by 3,255 per year, and save the NHS £8.4 million annually.

Recent research indicates that the overall harm caused by alcohol in the North East costs nearly £1.5 billion per year, factoring in the NHS, social care services, crime, and economic impact. In response, the North East alcohol programme Balance has launched a new campaign to coincide with the start of Euro 2024. The campaign aims to raise awareness of the harmful effects of alcohol, linking it to various cancers including bowel, breast, mouth, and throat cancer.

A Call to Action

The stark statistics and expert testimonies presented at the recent meeting paint a clear picture: Newcastle faces a serious public health challenge related to alcohol consumption. The data underscores the need for urgent action to address harmful drinking behaviours and their profound impact on both individuals and the broader community.

As Newcastle grapples with this issue, it is imperative for local authorities, healthcare providers, and community leaders to collaborate on effective strategies. The proposed measures, including the introduction of minimum alcohol pricing and heightened public awareness campaigns, represent crucial steps towards mitigating the adverse effects of alcohol on the city’s population.

In conclusion, addressing Newcastle’s alcohol problem requires concerted effort and robust policy changes. With health officials raising alarms, the city must now take decisive action to safeguard the well-being of its residents and alleviate the growing burden on its healthcare system. Future developments in this endeavour will be closely monitored, as Newcastle strives to transition from its “party city” image towards a healthier, more sustainable future.

Dawn Jackson
Dawn Jackson
Journalist Dawn is an experienced business journalist specializing in regional coverage across the United Kingdom. With a keen eye for detail and a passion for uncovering stories that impact local communities, Dawn brings a unique perspective to her work. Through her insightful reporting, she keeps readers informed about the latest developments in various regions, shedding light on the economic landscape and entrepreneurial endeavours. Dawn's dedication to delivering accurate and engaging business news makes her a valuable asset to the News Write Ups team.

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