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12.10.12

Middle aged drinkers pose burden to NHS

The first ever map of alcohol-related health costs shows that middle-aged drinkers are placing the greatest burden on the NHS.

Published by Alcohol Concern, the research collates data from local authorities, before they take on responsibilities for public health. The 55-74 year old age group presented over ten times greater inpatient costs compared to 16-24 year olds, often perceived to be more dangerous, as young and irresponsible binge drinkers.

The costs for alcohol-related inpatient admissions for 55-74 year olds was £825.6m in 2010/11, compared to £63.8m for 16-24 year olds. Eight times as many 55-74 year olds were admitted as inpatients.

Alcohol Concern chief executive Eric Appleby said: “It is the common perception that young people are responsible for the increasing cost of alcohol misuse, but our findings show that in reality this is not the case. 

“It is the middle-aged, and often middle class drinker, regularly drinking above recommended limits, who are actually requiring complex and expensive NHS care. There needs to be more investment in local alcohol care pathways and services by Local Authorities for this group, to prevent them from ending up as an in-patient.”

Siobhan McCann, head of campaigns and communications at Drinkaware, said: “Today’s statistics are a stark reminder of the long-term health impact of regularly drinking over the Government’s guidelines. People in their 30s and 40s who we know are drinking more and more frequently than under 25s, are likely to be a burden on local NHS services in the future.”

The Alcohol Harm Map can be found at: www.alcoholconcern.couldthisbe.com  

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