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Alcohol Worst in North-West

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009 Alcohol Worst in North-West

The north-west is the area of England worst affected by excessive drinking, research published today shows.

Manchester has the highest level of harm linked to alcohol consumption when a range of factors such as hospital admissions, early deaths and crime are taken into consideration, the study by the north-west Public Health Observatory found.

Seven out of the 10 worst affected areas in 2006-07 were in the north-west, including Salford, Liverpool, Oldham and Rochdale, the study, Local Alcohol Profiles for England, found.

Experts warn alcohol-related disease is on the rise across the country.

Moreover, between4n 2006/07, it was estimated that there were over 800,000 alcohol-related hospital admissions in England - up 9% in a year.

Of the local authority areas, there was an increase of 63%. Deaths from Liver disease had increased 7% for females and 5% for their male counterparts.

Nevertheless, according to Alison Giles, director of Our Life, a campaign group for alcohol awareness in the north-west, said high levels of social deprivation and large numbers of off licenses were to blame for the region’s poor showing in the survey.

In addition, she states, “We know that in places like Blackpool and Warrington there is a high density of licensed premises, which contributes to the high levels of alcohol consumption and anti-social behaviour.”

The local areas least affected by alcohol were mostly in the South East or Eastern regions of the country, including Mid-Bedfordshire, East Dorset, West Berkshire and South Norfolk.

Dr Karen Tocque, lead researcher says, “No area of England can escape the fact that alcohol is having some negative influence on their residents.

“Each year, people living in each community become a victim of a crime, are unable to work, are admitted to hospital or may even die - all because of alcohol.”

According to Professor Mark Bellis, director of the observatory, added: “Rises in alcohol-related health problems reflect not only weekend binge drinking but also how use of alcohol on a nightly basis continues to erode our health.

“Further increases in alcohol problems are in store if we continue to focus on the symptoms of alcohol misuse, like night life violence and ill health, but ignore the causes such as cheap alcohol and a lack of recognition that alcohol is a dangerous drug.”

Alcohol Concerns Chief Executive Don Shenker says the figures showed that public health campaigns and soft-touch regulation of the industry were not working.

He said: “There is no longer any doubt that the rise in alcohol harms is related to cheaper, more widely available and irresponsibly sold alcohol.

“Many cases of alcohol-related ill-health, deaths and crimes can be avoided, and related costs to the NHS and the policing can be brought down.

“But without firm action on pricing and sales the numbers and the costs will continue to spiral pointlessly.”

In response, a spokesperson for the Department Of Health (DOH) has stated that their intention to impose new standards on the alcohol industry.

He said: “We are determined to reduce the health and social harms caused by alcohol.”

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