Booze-related hospital admissions soar

Tuesday, 13 March, 2007

ALCOHOL related hospital admissions at one Suffolk emergency unit have shot up by 126% in the last ten years, it has been revealed.

The shocking figures for West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds - taken since 1997 - compare to an average 84% increase across the Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire area.

David Ruffley, MP for Bury, who has obtained the figures, said the general increase was bad enough but he was appalled by the local rise, which he insisted strengthened the case for retaining the accident and emergency department at the hospital.

Mr Ruffley said: 'These new House of Commons figures on alcohol-related admissions to hospital are truly shocking.

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

'This staggering increase underlines the importance of the campaign to save the accident and emergency department at the West Suffolk Hospital, which is persistently being referred to as under threat by the regional Strategic Health Authority's review of acute services.

'I will be tabling further questions in the House of Commons to look into these figures more closely and I have written to Carole Taylor-Brown, Chief Executive of Suffolk Primary Care Trust (PCT), asking exactly what is being done to combat alcohol abuse in Suffolk because it is clear to me that a lot more work is required.

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

'This figure is worrying in itself but the fact that the increase in West Suffolk is 42% higher over the same period is simply staggering.

'Alcohol abuse is something we must work incredibly hard to combat. In the UK, binge drinking accounts for 40% of all drinking sessions by men and 22% by women.'

Between 2004/05 and 2005/06 - the latest year for which figures are available - alcohol related hospital visits in West Suffolk, Norfolk, East Suffolk and Cambridgeshire increased by 16 and 17%.

A spokesman for the West Suffolk Hospital NHS Trust said: 'Alcohol is the primary factor in virtually all violence related admissions after 8pm.

'We would urge people to avoid binge-drinking, take care to prepare by eating before going out to drink and alternating water with alcoholic drinks.'