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A&E attendances double for alcohol poisoning


22 December 2015

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The number of A&E attendance rates likely to be due to alcohol poisoning doubled in six years, and commissioners must collaborate on alcohol prevention, think-tank urges.

From the six years leading up to 2013/14, the number of A&E attendance rates likely to be due to alcohol poisoning doubled. It rose from 72.7 per 100,000 of population to 148.8 per 100,000 – a 104.6% increase, the Nuffield Trust revealed.

The number of A&E attendance rates likely to be due to alcohol poisoning doubled in six years, and commissioners must collaborate on alcohol prevention, think-tank urges.

From the six years leading up to 2013/14, the number of A&E attendance rates likely to be due to alcohol poisoning doubled. It rose from 72.7 per 100,000 of population to 148.8 per 100,000 – a 104.6% increase, the Nuffield Trust revealed.

After the Health and Social Care Act, the responsibility for commissioning alcohol misuse services was transferred to local government with clinical commissioning groups responsible for commissioning healthcare that may include alcohol health workers.

However, one fifth of clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in 2014-15 still commission alcohol services, and Public Health England found in 2014 that CCGs were involved in the funding of only 30% of such services.

The Nuffield Trust says to ensure that funding of preventative services is provided to address local needs – including the provision of alcohol liaison services within acute trusts, local commissioners in local government and CCGs  – must collaborate in line with best practice guidelines.

Within this group, the highest rates of likely alcohol poisoning were seen particularly in young women aged 15 to 19 years, where the rate was approximately one and half times higher than men in the same age group. Moreover, rates were higher in the North of England and three and a half times higher among those living in the 20% most deprived areas in England.

Surprisingly, the highest rates of emergency admission in 2013/14 were found in the 45 to 64 age group, for both men and women. The rates of admission were four times higher among those living in the 20% most deprived areas than those living in the 20% least deprived areas. Rates were also higher in the North of England.

Claire Currie, joint author of the report, added: “Hospitals alone cannot tackle this issue – the Government must consider measures such as minimum unit pricing, restricting availability and limiting marketing and advertising”.

NICE best practice guidelines published in 2010 recommend that commissioners and local authorities prioritise alcohol prevention as an ‘invest to save’ initiative (NICE, 2010).

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