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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 June 2007, 08:29 GMT 09:29 UK
Liver disease increase in north
Man drinking a pint of beer
Alcoholic liver disease rose over the last decade
The numbers of people diagnosed with alcoholic liver disease has quadrupled in the Western Isles and doubled in the Highlands.

The information was released to the Scottish Tories in response to a parliamentary question.

Conservative health spokeswoman Mary Scanlon said more had to be done to warn people of the dangers of drink.

NHS Highland said tackling alcohol-related illnesses was a top public health priority.

Ms Scanlon accused NHS Highland of cutting funding for alcohol counselling.

She described the figures as "alarming and absolutely shocking", adding: "I had no idea it had tripled in the Highlands and quadrupled in the Western Isles.

"I think people will be absolutely shocked by the extent of the problem."

We are obviously aware of the local and national figures and I am extremely keen that we address these issues
Dr Sheila Scott
NHS Western Isles

Eric Baijal, director of public health for NHS Highland, said the authority was an "active partner" in the multi-agency Highland Drug and Alcohol Action Team.

He added: "A key priority is to engage young people and wider communities so that they are taking informed choices.

"This is being taken forward through a prevention and education sub-group which has overseen the development of a more consistent framework for education work in schools and community settings."

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar councillor, Neil Campbell, said the figures were a cause for "grave concern" for the whole community and he hoped the issues could be given greater priority.

Changing attitudes

NHS Western Isles director of public health, Dr Sheila Scott, said: "We are obviously aware of the local and national figures and I am extremely keen that we address these issues.

"The very small numbers 10 years ago may have reflected reluctance to have alcohol-related death recorded as such - so some of the apparent increase may be due to better recording today."

The number of Scots diagnosed with alcoholic liver disease had doubled from 1,731 in 1996 to 3,541 last year.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon has called for a united approach in changing attitudes to alcohol.

The figures covered acute hospital in-patients only and statisticians warned that not all hospitals may record alcohol misuse in the same way.


SEE ALSO
Liver disease 'doubles in decade'
18 Jun 07 |  Scotland
Scottish drink death toll goes up
19 Dec 05 |  Scotland
Alcohol takes toll on Scots NHS
15 Dec 05 |  Scotland
Slight fall in drink admissions
17 Nov 04 |  Scotland

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