Hospital admissions for booze-related illnesses on the rise

PUBLISHED: 08:00 22 July 2015

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THOUSANDS of people were hospitalised due to alcohol in North Somerset last year, with a 12 per cent rise in admissions putting ‘extra pressure’ on the district’s NHS.

n Across the South West 1,810 people per 100,000 population were admitted to hospital for alcohol-related illnesses.

n Out of 41 local authorities neighbouring Sedgemoor 
District Council was the 10th worst on the list, with 1,940 people admitted per 100,000 population, and North 
Somerset was 11th, with 1,920 admissions per 100,000.

n Bristol was the worst, with 2,310 admissions per 100,000 people, followed by Bournemouth with 2,280 and Torbay 
with 2,230.

The figures put the district as one of the worst in the region, with 4,460 people in North Somerset admitted to hospital in 2013-2014.

This is a rise of 470 people on 
the previous year.

Reasons for hospital visits due to alcohol included liver disease, cancer, mental health issues, trips, falls or unplanned pregnancies.

But despite the rise experts insist early intervention and treatment programmes in the district are improving.

The picture in North Somerset is bleaker than the one nationally – which shows a rise of just five per cent.

The statistics, from the Health and Social Care Information Centre, show the equivalent to one in 50 people living in North Somerset has been admitted to hospital for an alcohol-related illness in 2013-2014.

But A&E matron at Weston Area NHS Trust, Rebecca Watkins, said: “We’ve not seen a notable increase in alcohol-related admissions. However, we know there’s an existing high level of alcohol misuse in the area.

“We see patients with long-term addiction to alcohol and alcohol-related injuries needing to be admitted to the hospital, especially at weekends. This can put extra pressure on services.”

Fighting the battle against alcohol abuse

TO COMBAT some of the issues caused by booze in Weston many of the town’s organisations have joined together to offer treatment and support.

The night-time economy, tourism and an ageing population have all been identified as one of the key issues relating to alcohol-abuse.

A spokesman from North Somerset Council told the Mercury: “Together with our partners we are reviewing the services specifically targeted at alcohol use in the hospital and GP practices.”

There is hope a review of alcohol programmes and targeting issues caused by late-night drinking in bars and clubs will see the problem improve.

The spokesman said: “As well as improving early intervention and treatment programmes for problematic alcohol use, we are actively working with a number of organisations, including the police, local bars and clubs.”

The council hopes to obtain ‘Purple Flag’ status for Weston, a national award which recognises well-managed night-time economies.

A ‘streetsafe’ bus has been purchased and will be run by the council, the police and the ambulance service.

The spokesman said: “The bus will be used as a multi-agency hub to provide support for people in the night-time economy and reduce the number of people needing to go to hospital.”

The council has also commissioned a combined drug and alcohol treatment programme through Weston-based charity, Addaction.

Addaction provides one-to-one and group therapy, mental and physical healthcare as well as life-skills and development for people who are recovering from addiction.

The charity’s North Somerset service manager, Gill Flanaghan, said one of the reasons for high numbers of alcohol-related admissions could be tourism in Weston.

She said: “It would be very interesting to see if admissions go up during events, such as the Beach Race or Corona Sunsets.

“A lot of tourists come down and there tends to be more fights which are alcohol-related.”

Sedgemoor also experienced an 11 per cent rise in the total number of alcohol-related hospital admissions in 2013-2014 when compared to 2012-2013 and there was a 10 per cent rise across the whole region.

Ms Flanaghan highlighted how an ageing population could be a factor, and said: “We have an older population in Weston and across the South West.

“People are drinking more over the age of 55-60.

“They are people who aren’t dependent drinkers, but are 
not necessarily binge drinkers either.

“They may be people who are used to having a bottle of wine of an evening. They are not dependant drinkers but accidents can happen, they might get cut on glass, or hurt themselves falling over, that sort of thing.”

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