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Surge in alcohol-related hospital admissions for over 60s

Half of all alcohol-related hospital admissions in the NE are for people over 50

Half of all alcohol-related hospital admissions in the NE are for people over 50

Posted 16/10/15

Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, is calling for action to protect older people as new figures have revealed that the number of alcohol-related hospital admissions for over 60’s has increased by 77% in the North East.

The call for action follows a Parliamentary debate, on alcohol harm and older people led by Fiona Bruce MP.

The figures have shown:

• There has been a 77% increase in the number of wholly attributable alcohol-related hospital admissions for over 60s since 2006/07 in the North East.
• There has been a 93% increase in alcohol-related deaths for over 55 year olds between 1994 and 2013 in England.
• There has been a 79% increase in alcohol-related deaths for over 75 year olds between 1994 and 2013 in England.
• One in five people aged 65+ in the North East drink more than the Government’s recommended limits.

The Royal College of Physicians has also suggested that up to 60% of older people admitted to hospital for confusion, falls at home, chest infections and heart failure may have unrecognised alcohol problems.

Colin Shevills, Director of Balance, said: “The figures around alcohol and older people are worrying to say the least and more needs to be done around identifying these problems and more importantly prevention. It’s a positive step that this debate is taking place as we need to raise awareness of this issue and address it.

“Professionals working with older people, including healthcare and social work professionals, as well as housing and other care staff, need to be aware of alcohol misuse as a potential issue amongst older people, and to recognise that problems traditionally attributed to the ageing process may be indicators of alcohol misuse. This issue needs to be addressed in initial professional training and in ongoing professional development.

“We must also implement policy changes at a national level. To save lives, we must make alcohol less affordable. People are dying because alcohol is far too cheap, it’s available at all hours of the day and night and it’s far too heavily promoted. A minimum unit price of at least 50p will make cheap, strong alcohol less affordable to the vulnerable, younger and heavier drinkers who are more likely to drink it and suffer the consequences. At the same time, it would not impact on moderate drinkers.”

Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, Chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance (AHA UK), said: “These figures are worrying and show that unless we tackle alcohol-related harms at a population level with effective, evidence-based policies, we will be storing problems up for the future.

“So many of these hospital admissions are avoidable, and the stark figures are likely to be an under-estimate as many alcohol-related hospital admissions slip under the radar. We need urgent government action - our NHS simply cannot continue to carry the burden of alcohol misuse in people of any age.”