The release of new data on alcohol-related hospital admissions has prompted fresh warnings about society’s relationship with the bottle - and two Greater Manchester boroughs are in the national top 10.
Analysis of official statistics released this week showed Salford had the second-highest level of people going into hospital because of alcohol in 2019-20.
Manchester also came in 10th in the same list.
Addiction experts are now warning about a “dangerous infatuation” with alcohol and said it is crippling the NHS while a local public health chief has outlined the work being done to tackle the problem across the city-region.
What does the data show?
The UK Addiction Treatment Group (UKAT) analysed the latest data for 2019-20 released by the Government’s Office for Health Improvement & Disparities.
The most recently-updated metric showed that in 2019-20 Salford had the second-highest level of alcohol-related hospital admissions in England.
There were 6,354 admissions, giving a rate of 2,953 per 100,000 people.
Manchester was also in the list of most concerning areas, rounding out the top 10 with 8,998 admissions which gives a rate of 2,589 per 100,000 residents.
The data shows that the NHS was hit with nearly one million alcohol-related hospital admissions in 2019-20, the third successive rise in people needing hospital treatment using this metric.
The data includes both admissions where alcohol is the primary reason for going into hospital and ones where a booze-related condition is a secondary diagnosis.
This, the UKAT says, gives a broader and more complete picture of just how big an impact drink is having on the NHS.
While Southampton topped the list of booze-related hospital admissions the other local authorities at the top of the table were all in the north of England.
UKAT says the most deprived areas of the country are those with the biggest problems and also indicated that men make up the majority of those going into hospital for alcohol-related reasons.
What do the data analysts say?
Nuno Albuquerque, head of treatment at UKAT, said: “The NHS was crippled to the tune of nearly one million alcohol-related hospital admissions in 2019/20; the third consecutive annual rise.
“Clearly, we are a society dangerously infatuated with alcohol, especially those living in the North.
“Considering alcohol is a legal substance associated with having a good time, it is causing a lot of problems not just for the individuals consuming it, but for those who look after us.
“The cost of treatment to the NHS alone will be eye-watering. So why are we not using this as leverage to force ring fenced budgets for awareness, education and treatment of alcohol related problems?
“The Government has made some encouraging noise recently about their plans for a drug reform, but as always, this country’s problem with alcohol just gets swept under the table and ignored.
“We expect this to become a much bigger beast to tame in the next couple of years than anyone could ever imagine.”
What do Greater Manchester health bodies say?
A leading public health boss in the city-region acknowledged the problems of excessive alcohol consumption in Greater Manchester and said a pioneering strategy has been put together to tackle drink and drug use.
Professor Kate Ardern, Greater Manchester lead director of public health for alcohol and substance harm reduction, said: “Though many of us enjoy the occasional drink, we know that regularly drinking more than 14 units of alcohol a week can cause very real problems.
“Alcohol can have a serious impact on a person’s life and also exacerbate other challenges they may be facing.
“Inevitably, these problems often have a knock-on effect on local communities and NHS services, not only here in Greater Manchester but across the country.
“That’s why we’re committed to reducing levels of alcohol-related harm and to making Greater Manchester a place where everyone can have the best start in life, live well and age well, and be safe from the harms caused by alcohol.
“Greater Manchester’s first-ever drug and alcohol strategy has been developed to significantly reduce risks and harms which affect more people in our city region compared to the national average.
“It sets a plan of action for how individuals, communities, public services, the voluntary, community and faith sectors and private business can all play their part in addressing the challenges we face.
“These challenges have been cast in a new light by how people’s behaviours and access to services have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
“Over the coming months we’ll continue reviewing our approaches in response, as we double down on our mission to reduce levels of alcohol-related harm.”
UKAT also offers 24/7 confidential help and support for alcohol-related problems.