Drink-related hospital admissions fall by 19% across Wearside
Sunderland has seen the country's third-highest fall in alcohol-related hospital admissions, according to new figures released by Public Health England.
Since rates hit a peak in 2011/12, drink-related hospital admissions on Wearside have fallen by 19% overall, compared to a 5% rise across the rest of the country.
Alcohol-related conditions are described as illnesses and injuries, such as heart disease, strokes and certain cancers, which can be caused by alcohol.
The statistics also reveal that the number of women in Sunderland being admitted for alcohol-related conditions has fallen by 22%, with an 18% decrease for men.
Coun John Kelly, Portfolio Holder for Public Health, Wellness and Culture at Sunderland City Council, said: "The reduction in alcohol-related hospital admissions is heartening, but there is still a lot of work to do. Raising people’s awareness of alcohol-related health harms associated with excess alcohol consumption is key to reducing figures further. We will continue to work with partners such as Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group and Balance on campaigns to get those health messages across.
"Equally important is promoting and encouraging healthier lifestyle choices, Sunderland has services in place such as Live Life Well and local pharmacies who are encouraging people across Sunderland to reconsider their drinking habits through campaigns such as Dry January and signposting to local drug and alcohol services."
Although Sunderland remains amongst the worst affected areas in the country, the new figures were given a cautious welcome from Balance, the North East Alcohol Office.
Colin Shevills, Director of Balance, said: "It’s promising to see the North East improving when it comes to hospital admissions related to alcohol. These figures clearly show Sunderland and the region as a whole is moving in the right direction. We’re the only region in the country showing rates falling and, while it is difficult to pinpoint the exact reason for the fall, the North East is the only region working so closely together to tackle alcohol harm.
"But we still have the highest alcohol-related hospital admission rates and some of the highest alcohol-related death rates in England so we can’t be complacent. In fact, the rate of improvement shows signs of slowing and it is probably no coincidence that this has happened at a time when alcohol duty rates have been cut.
"Alcohol is linked to more than 200 medical conditions including cancer, yet far too many people remain unaware of the serious damage it can to do, even when consumed at relatively low levels. Only by making people aware of the risks can they then make informed choices about how much they choose to drink – and that means there’s a need for Government health campaigns and mandatory health warning labels on alcohol products.”"
While alcohol-related hospital admissions in the North East still remain the highest in the country, the region as a whole is showing improvements, with a 5% reduction over the past three years.