Suffolk health chiefs insist they are winning the battle against drink abuse
- Credit: PA
The message comes despite a small rise in drink-related hospital admissions in the county last year.
New figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre found that alcohol-related hospital admissions rose from 13,160 in 2012/13 to 13,250 in 2013/14 in the county.
The biggest increase was in Suffolk Coastal, where it rose by 7% from 1,980 to 2,110. It also climbed in Ipswich by 6%, from 2,260 to 2,390.
It fell in two districts: in Babergh by 1%, down to 1,550, and significantly in Waveney by 12%, from 2,630 to 2,310. The national increase was 5%.
Tony Goldson, cabinet member for health at Suffolk County Council, said: “While the number of people admitted to hospital as a result of alcohol consumption remains a concern, we are confident that our partnership approach in Suffolk to reduce the overall harm of excessive drinking through education, public awareness raising and treatment is seeing the figures remain relatively stable.
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“It is also encouraging that our overall increase is significantly lower than the national average.
“Our consistent message is to take a few days off alcohol each week, adopt a moderation approach and to consider a non-alcoholic alternative rather than reaching for a drink during times of increased stress.”
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Tony Rollo, chair of Healthwatch Suffolk, added: “We know that alcohol-related admissions are a drain on our public services but that it is also an important contributor to our local economy.
“This issue has been prioritised on a countywide level by the Suffolk Health and Wellbeing Board on which we are a statutory member.
“A strategy has been developed and, by supporting it, we hope that we can move to a healthy Suffolk that has a balanced and mature relationship with alcohol.”
In February, efforts to cut late-night alcohol-fuelled violence in Ipswich were praised after it emerged crimes at pubs and clubs had fallen by almost 30% in just two years, from 694 in 2011/12 to 503 in 2013/14.
But Jackie Ballard, chief executive of Alcohol Concern, said: “While I welcome the positive trend in the reduction of binge-drinking, I am very worried at the increase in hospital admissions for alcohol-related illnesses, including cancer. The damage and distress caused by alcohol continues to grow.
“It’s often the case that people are not aware of the links between alcohol and over 60 medical conditions such as cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure.
“This is why we have to tackle alcohol being sold at cheap prices, its constant availability and the extensive and persuasive alcohol advertising and sports sponsorship which we are all bombarded with everyday.”