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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 December 2005, 12:54 GMT
Hospital alcohol admissions rise
Admissions were up for underage drinkers and adults
The number of drink-related hospital admissions in England has increased by more than a quarter over the past eight years, figures show.

There were 51,108 admissions in 2004-05 - up from 39,913 in 1996-97 - a rise of 28%, official statistics obtained by the Liberal Democrats show.

For underage drinkers the figure rose by 15% and for adults it was up by 30%.

Lib Dem health spokesman Paul Burstow, said it was "vital" more measures were taken to prevent binge drinking.

The statistics cover admissions for liver disease, alcohol poisoning and mental and behavioural problems.

Preventative measures

The figures show 4,809 drink-related admissions for under-18s in 2004-05, up from 4,173 in 1996-97.

For adults the number was 46,299 - up from 35,740.

There were also 95 admissions in 2004-05 for people whose ages were not known.

The Times newspaper reports that the government is considering lifting a 20-year restriction on "sting" operations on retailers suspected of selling alcohol to underage drinkers.

Pub licensing laws in England and Wales were changed last month, with some 1,000 premises allowed to open all day.

Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt has said more staggered closing times and an accompanying clampdown on bars that allow binge drinking will help make town centres safer.

But opponents, including Tories and Lib Dems, say longer hours will lead to a rise in alcohol-related health problems and violence.

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