Work to bring down alcohol-related hospital admissions 'not good enough', warns charity, after 36,000 in a year
There has been no significant decrease in the rate of people being admitted to hospital because of alcohol, a leading charity has warned.
New figures from Public Health Scotland revel 23,685 people were hospitalised for alcohol-related reasons in 35,781 admittances in the financial year 2019/20.
This is just 96 fewer than the previous year.
Alison Douglas, chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, said the figures were “not good enough”.
“It’s disappointing to see such high numbers of people continuing to being admitted to hospital for reasons relating to alcohol,” she said.
"The overall level of hospitalisations in 2019/20 has remained similar to the previous years, and that is not good enough.”
In the year 2019/20 the inequality gap widened, with people in the most deprived areas seven times more likely to be hospitalised for an alcohol-related condition than those in the least deprived areas – 1,079 per 100,000 population compared to 155.
This is a greater disparity than the previous year, when the rate was six times more likely.
Ms Douglas said: “Beneath the headline figures we have seen a worrying increase in admissions from people living in our most deprived communities.”
The figures run to March 31, so do not show a significant impact from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ms Douglas said it is “difficult to predict” the impact the pandemic will have.
"On the one hand, many alcohol services have been disrupted during the coronavirus crisis and we have heard anecdotal reports that some service users’ conditions have worsened, requiring hospital treatment. On the other, there are reports of people staying away from hospital to avoid making demands on the NHS,” she said.
"Both of these are worrying as people need access to the right care at the earliest opportunity to avoid long-term issues.”
Labour Health spokeswoman Monica Lennon called the issue of alcohol misuse a “ticking time bomb”.
"As we come out of lockdown we are likely to see a huge range of alcohol related illnesses that require urgent interventions,” she said.
“Alcohol misuse affects people from all backgrounds but people in our most deprived communities are too often pushed to the back of the queue and we are seeing massive health inequalities.”