Admissions for chronic liver disease up nearly 100 per cent
HOSPITALS are paying the price for Scotland's growing drink problem with a huge increase in admissions caused by alcohol-induced violence and drink-related illnesses.
The most detailed report on the impact of alcohol on Scotland's health services says Scots, especially young people and women, are increasingly drinking to excess - and it is left to the NHS to clean up the mess
Alcohol-related problems are now estimated to cost Scotland 1.1 billion a year. The report says that between 1996 and 2004:
The number of men admitted to accident and emergency with acute intoxication rose 40 per cent to 57 per 10,000 people; the number of women went up to 17 per 10,000.
It is estimated that up to one in five hospital admissions are alcohol-related.
Admissions for chronic liver disease rose 100 per cent for women to 1.6 per 10,000 in the last eight years and by 92 per cent for men to 2.5 per 10,000.
Alcoholic liver disease also rocketed by 73 per cent for men and 81 per cent for women.
Dr David Steel, the chief executive of NHS Quality Improvement Scotland, which produced the report, said it was time for Scotland to face up to the consequences of excessive drinking: "Quite simply, Scotland's drink problem is getting worse. As a nation we need to take a good look at our behaviour. The impact on the health service is a concern and coping with the rise in emergency admissions presents a real challenge for the NHS."
The problem is worse in the 45-64-year age group. However, Dr Steel said increasing numbers of young people drinking to excess are not showing up at the moment because they have not yet developed chronic conditions. "There is a long-term problem to be dealt with."
Last week Audit Scotland said Executive pledges to reduce the proportion of people drinking to excess every week to 31 per cent of men and 12 per cent for women by 2005 were unlikely to be met.
Lewis Macdonald, the deputy health minister, said the Executive was taking extensive measures to tackle alcohol misuse including a change in licensing laws and education.
Jack Law, the chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, called for more controversial measures including banning cut-price promotions and more rigorous controls in place to prevent under-age sales.
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