Page last updated at 06:36 GMT, Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Wales alcohol A&E admissions 'rise 30%'

Alcohol in supermarket
Cheap deals on alcohol have been blamed for promoting binge drinking

The number of people in Wales admitted to casualty departments with alcohol-related problems rose by 30% from 2002 to 2008, according to statistics.

More than 55,000 people were admitted during that period, with the highest level of admissions at Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport, at 5,825.

Ysbyty Glan Clwyd, in Rhyl, was only just lower at 5,535.

Vale of Clwyd AM Ann Jones, who asked for the figures, said "booze culture" was hampering emergency services.

The figures showed the city with the highest admission figures was Swansea, with the combined total from Morriston and Singleton hospitals coming to 6,920.

Ann Jones
Millions of people will of course be enjoying some Christmas cheer and there is nothing wrong with that.... however, we need to realise the strain that patients with over-exuberant drinking is having on the Welsh health service
Ann Jones AM

The two hospitals serving the Cardiff area, University Hospital of Wales and Llandough Hospital were only just behind at 6,668.

The 2001 census showed Swansea had a population of 224,000, while Cardiff had 307,000.

Ms Jones, whose constituency includes Rhyl, asked for the figures after Alcohol Concern Wales told her alcohol-related deaths claimed 1,000 lives each year, with 45% of people in Wales saying they drank more than the recommended amount.

Research published earlier this year suggested the chance of dying from alcohol-related conditions was three times higher among people living in deprived areas.

'Extremely worrying'

Ms Jones said: "What my research shows is that the booze culture in Wales is still hampering our emergency services.

"During the festive season, millions of people will of course be enjoying some Christmas cheer and there is nothing wrong with that.

"However we need to realise the strain that patients with over-exuberant drinking is having on the Welsh health service.

"Almost 4,000 admissions to Welsh hospitals involved under-18s, which is an extremely worrying statistic.

"I do think that we need to be looking at the pricing structure in Wales as it is possible to drink more than your daily allowance for as little as a couple of pound."

Andrew Misell, policy manager for Alcohol Concern Wales, called the figures "sadly not surprising" and said there was a need to look at the binge drinking culture at weekends.

Minimum price

"There is a role for retailers, particularly pubs and clubs, to look at drink promotions and what price they are selling drinks for," he said.

"The big thing that Alcohol Concern feels would make a difference is a minimum price of 50p per unit which would make it impossible for pubs to sell drinks for a pound."

However, he pointed out many people were "pre-loading" cheap alcohol bought from supermarkets and shops before going out, adding: "It's not always the pubs' fault."

In a recent test by the charity, it managed to buy a two-litre bottle of cider for £1.21, which equated to 8.4 units of alcohol at 14p per unit.

An offer of three bottles of 14% wine for £10 meant each unit cost 32p, while two cases of beer for £15 equated to 54 units at 28p per unit.

Last month, the then social affairs minister Brian Gibbons called for alcohol strength to be taken into account when pricing drinks.



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SEE ALSO
'Minimum price' call on alcohol
23 Nov 09 |  Wales
1,000 die from alcohol in Wales
06 Apr 09 |  Wales
Alcohol kills twice as many men
23 Feb 09 |  Scotland
Alcohol-related deaths 'falling'
27 Jan 09 |  Health

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FROM OTHER NEWS SITES
Mail Online UK Alcohol-related hospital admissions soar by 47% in the last five years - 37 hrs ago



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