Ipswich: MP’s alarm over sobering statistics - sharp rise in alcohol-related hospital admissions

WHY should hard-working taxpayers fork out to pay to pick up the pieces when a drunk patient is admitted to hospital after a heavy night out?

That is the question posed today by Ipswich MP Ben Gummer after shocking new figures revealed the number of alcohol-related admissions to Ipswich Hospital has spiralled by around 50 per cent in the last three years.

The number of intoxicated women coming through the doors has soared by 57pc, while the figure for drunk men has shot up 46pc since 2008/09.

Meanwhile The Star has learnt that schoolchildren as young as 13 are being treated for alcohol addiction in the county.

Commending hospital staff for their hard work, Mr Gummer said: “The NHS was designed to help people in their moment of need to ensure those in genuine sickness are looked after.

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“It was not designed to pick up the pieces after a big night out.

“I have long thought that taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay in every circumstance where people make themselves ill, whether through alcohol or smoking.

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“You have to be careful with the idea but for emergency admissions, where a person makes themselves ill through drinking too much, I don’t see why hard-working tax-payers on low income should have to pay the bill which will run into thousands per admission.”

The most recent statistics reveal that in 2010/11 there were 1,577 male alcohol-related admissions per 100,000 of the Ipswich population, compared to 1,078 in 2008/09.

In Suffolk as a whole, the figure stands at 1,276, compared to 957 in 2008/09.

For women the Ipswich figure was 919 per 100,000 of the population in 2010/11 compared to 585 in 2008/09. In Suffolk, the figure is currently 752, compared to 527 in 2008/09.

“Alcohol-related admissions take up a huge amount of valuable time for our dedicated doctors and nurses,” said Mr Gummer.

“You only have to go out with the police on a Friday or Saturday night or spend time in A&E to see the impact.

“And long-term care for addicts is on the rise, particularly in women across the country, with alcohol-related diseases including cirrhosis rising.”

Experts say alcohol misuse is the third greatest overall contributor to ill health in Suffolk after smoking and high blood pressure.

Simon Aalders, co-ordinator of Suffolk Drug and Alcohol Action Team said the rate of drink-related admissions in Ipswich were above national, regional and local averages.

“This would suggest the impact is significant in terms of money but particularly in terms of health,” he added.

n What do you think? Have you been affected? Write to health reporter Lizzie Parry at Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or you can e-mail lizzie.parry@archant.co.uk

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