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Last Updated: Monday, 31 December 2007, 12:09 GMT
Alcohol warnings before New Year
Beer taps
Over 500 people a day are admitted to hospital due to alcohol
Experts are warning of the social and economic costs of binge drinking, as New Year revellers gear up for a night of indulgence.

More than 500 people are now being admitted to hospital every day because of health problems related to alcohol.

This is a rise of just under a third over two years, NHS figures suggest.

There is thought to be rising awareness in A&E departments about the role alcohol plays, and this may partially explain the rise.

However alcohol charities also point to the liberalisation of licensing laws almost two years ago, and blame supermarkets for pushing down the price of alcohol.

In 2003-4, there were 147,659 admissions to English hospitals where alcohol was diagnosed as a cause. In 2004-5, there were 170,130, and in the next year, that figure had reached 193,637.

This is the equivalent of around 530 admissions a day.

As well as immediate health problems such as liver disease and poisoning, the figures also cover the "mental and behavioural disorders" alcohol can provoke.

Closing time

The combination of cheap prices and easy accessibility "all combine to send the message that drinking anytime, anywhere, anyplace is acceptable and normal", says Alison Rogers, the chief executive of the British Liver Trust.

"If we continue to adopt a very 'softly softly' approach on the issue of alcohol it will be at a horrendous health, social and economic cost."

The British Beer and Pub Association has however stressed that alcohol sales across the country fell in 2006, and that the volume sold specifically through pubs and bars fell by more than 2%.

Despite the new licensing legislation, many pubs have not applied for late permits and those which have done so successfully are only staying open for an extra hour or so.

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