Girls' alcohol-related A&E visits soar

ALCOHOL-related hospital admissions of school-age girls in East Anglia have soared by more than 15% in the past five years, shock figures reveal.Almost 500 youngsters under the age of 18 were admitted to A&E suffering with the effects of alcohol in the region last year - 275 of which were young girls.

Danielle Nuttall

ALCOHOL-related hospital admissions of school-age girls in East Anglia have soared by more than 15% in the past five years, shock figures reveal.

Almost 500 youngsters under the age of 18 were admitted to A&E suffering with the effects of alcohol in the region last year - 275 of which were young girls.

The number of girls taken to hospital has risen 15.1% since 2001/02, compared to 1.4% for boys.

The figures, disclosed by ministers following a Parliamentary question, also show that almost 3,000 youngsters under the age of 18 in East Anglia have been admitted to hospital with problems caused by drink since 2001/02.

Alcohol campaigners in Suffolk last night blamed Britain's binge-drinking culture on the rise.

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Chip Somers, project manager for drug and alcohol charity Focus12, based in Bury St Edmunds, said: “The figures come as no surprise at all. They entirely reflect exactly what we are seeing.

“Young people, females in particular, are drinking much more than they used to some years ago.

“What's significant is the average age of people presenting with alcohol problems has become 10 years younger in the past five years. It's becoming much more common for them to present in their early 20s whereas five or 10 years ago that hardly ever happened.

“For females to be drunk was previously a matter of shame whereas now it's incredibly common to see people drunk on the streets. It doesn't carry the same social stigma as a few years ago.

“What we have got is not just a drinking culture but a culture where it's perfectly acceptable to be completely drunk. We have alcohol aimed at much younger people and the pub culture has changed into a club culture which is attractive to young people. There is also less parental control.”

Earlier this month police in Suffolk seized 350 bottles of alcohol following a crackdown on disorder fuelled by underage drinking.

As part of the national Confiscation of Alcohol Campaign, officers stepped up patrols between February 8 and 24 in areas blighted by booze-related anti-social behaviour and used “litmus-style” tests to detect alcohol consumption. In one case a cherryade bottle which was found to contain alcohol.

Inspector Matt Dee, who oversaw the campaign in the east and south of the county, said Ipswich did not appear to have a significant problem of youngsters drinking on the streets.

“We had both a combination of plain-clothed and uniformed officers going to locations where we know groups of youths congregate. By and large, most of our visits were negative,” he said.

“Overall for the duration of the campaign there were very few seizures from under 18s.

“Eighteen premises were visited and there was only one positive sale to under 18s. By and large the message appears to be getting through to retailers in Ipswich and instances where alcohol was seized those youngsters had liberated it from their parents' cupboards.”

The figures, released by the Liberal Democrats, show nationally almost 100 children under the age of eight were admitted to A&E last year while the number of girls under 18 admitted in the last five years has risen by almost 50%.

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