A&E alcohol admissions soar

Tuesday, 13 March, 2007

ALCOHOL-related emergency admissions to hospitals in Suffolk have risen dramatically in the last ten years, it can be revealed today.

Government figures have revealed that hospitals within the Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire Strategic Health Authority (SHA) have treated thousands more people in accident and emergency units since 1997.

During 1997-98 2,501 people were admitted to A&E in the region compared to 4,600 people during 2005-06.

David Ruffley, MP for Stowmarket and Bury St Edmunds obtained the figures though questioning Caroline Flint, minister of state at the Department of Health and said he was shocked by what he found.

He said: 'Admissions in the West Suffolk area have increased by 126 per cent since 1997/98 - that's a colossal increase and something we in Suffolk need to take a much closer look at.

'There has been an increase of 84 pc in alcohol-related admissions since 1997/98 across the whole of Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire.'

Tibbs Pinter, substance misuse officer for Ipswich Borough Council said that there has been an increase in alcohol consumption over the years leading to more people getting drunk and having accidents or getting so intoxicated that they have to go to A&E.

He said: 'It is sad that the benefits of our health service are being absorbed.'

Mr Pinter said that the price of alcohol had gone down and people also have more money. He added that there is now far more access to alcohol as it is sold in newsagents and garages and pubs are open longer.

He said: 'Compared to ten to 15 years ago the differences are quite stark. There has also been a huge change in culture. There is not the guilt associated with drunken behaviour that there used to be. People are more prepared to drink too much.'

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Annual admittance to A&E of people with alcohol related illness from 1997-8 to 2005-6

Ipswich - rose from 247, peaking in 2003-4 at 345 before dropping to 297 in 2005-6.

West Suffolk - steady rise from 196 to 442

Suffolk Coastal - rose from 121, peaking at 175 in 2003-4 before dropping to 136 in 2005-6.

Central Suffolk - rose from 52, peaking at 110 in 2004-5 before dropping to 99 in 2005-6.