Sunderland's alcohol-related hospital admissions are near to 'ticking time bomb about to explode'
The rise in the number of alcohol-related hospital admissions across Sunderland has been compared as close to a “ticking time bomb about to explode”.
The 13% increase over the last six years equates to nearly 1,000 additional cases during the 2018-19 year.
The UK Addiction Treatment (UKAT) figures, which are compiled from National Health Service (NHS) statistics, indicate that 8,850 people from the city received treatment during 2018-19 where the primary reason or a secondary diagnosis was linked to alcohol.
This is a rise of nearly 13% on the 7,860 patients who were admitted on similar grounds during 2012-13.
Conditions for hospital admission due to alcohol – described locally as placing “a significant burden on our local services” – include cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, alcohol poisoning and alcoholic liver disease.
Nuno Albuquerque, group treatment lead at UKAT, urged the Government to adopt an alcohol-specific strategy, adding: “The problem with alcohol across the North East is a ticking time bomb about to explode.
“NHS hospitals here are crippling under pressures directly attributable to the misuse of alcohol, a drug that is so socially accepted yet so incredibly dangerous.
“People here are seemingly struggling with their alcohol consumption, consuming so much alcohol that it is leading to hospitalisation and the diagnosis of further debilitating conditions, yet the Government continues to have their heads buried in the sand.
"These figures also only paint the worst part of the picture. What about the countless others living here struggling with alcohol misuse who aren’t hospitalised?”
Sunderland’s 13% rise was slightly below the overall 15% increase regionally.
The area with the largest rise in the North East was Stockton with a 44% increase from 4,500 admissions in 2012-13 to 6,490 in 2018-19.
Men accounted for 49,790 (64%) of the regional figures with 27,670 (36%) women also admitted in the 12 months to the end of March.
Public health minister Jo Churchill said: “We are determined to do more to support people who are most vulnerable or at risk from alcohol misuse which has a terrible impact on their lives and their families.
“As part of our NHS Long Term Plan, alcohol care teams will be introduced in hospitals with the highest number of alcohol-related admissions and we expect this to prevent 50,000 admissions from alcohol related harm over five years.”
Ryan Swiers, consultant in public health at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, which covers Sunderland Royal Hospital, said: “Alcohol remains one of the key causes of premature death in South Tyneside and Sunderland.
“It costs the whole NHS an estimated £3.5 billion every year and places a significant burden on our local services.
“After smoking, alcohol is the biggest risk factor for developing cancer, the most frequent cause of liver disease and a major factor in mental ill health and antisocial behaviour.
“Whilst this data relates to hospital admissions, alcohol is very much everyone’s business and we are working with our partners to develop a system-wide approach to alcohol reduction and thinking about how we can develop our substance misuse and alcohol care teams.”