One Sunderland youngster a week admitted to hospital with conditions caused by alcohol abuse

A youngster a week is being admitted to hospital in Sunderland with serious medical conditions caused by alcohol abuse, according to new figures.

Friday, 15th February 2019, 5:00 am
Updated Monday, 18th February 2019, 11:28 am
Medical problems among underderage drinkers are on the rise

Sunderland has one of the highest rates of hospital admissions for underage drinkers, new Public Health England data shows.

Charities say these figures are “alarming” and warn that young people are increasingly becoming binge drinkers.

Councillor Geoffrey Walker.

In Sunderland, 151 children were taken to hospital with illnesses directly linked to excessive drinking, between April 2015 and March 2018.

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That’s a rate of 93 admissions per every 100,000 children – compared with an average of 33 per 100,000 in England.

The figures are measured over a three-year period and only includes patients suffering conditions which are entirely attributable to alcohol abuse, such as liver cirrhosis.

Health chiefs at Sunderland City Council say that there is support for young people to help them understand the dangers of drinking.

Dr John Larsen, director of evidence and impact for alcohol education charity Drinkaware, said: “The more alcohol people drink, the greater their risk of developing a serious conditions, such as high blood pressure and heart disease, as well as seven types of cancer.

“Men and women should not drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis.”

Vanessa Hebditch, director of policy at the British Liver Trust, said the Government should rise taxes on alcoholic drinks or set a minimum unit price.

She said: “These statistics are alarming. Filling up a supermarket trolley with wine and drinking at home has become increasingly acceptable and affordable.

“The Government should address this by creating a minimum unit price or introducing stronger controls on the advertising so consumers can make an informed choice.”

Scotland introduced a minimum unit price of 50p in May 2017, while the Welsh Government is planning to implement the same measure next summer.

The Government estimates alcohol misuse costs the NHS about £3.5billion each year.

Sunderland City Council’s cabinet member for health and social care, Coun Dr Geoffrey Walker said: “Reducing alcohol harm is a priority for the Health and Wellbeing Board in Sunderland, and a citywide partnership is working on this issue.

“We recognise the importance of supporting young people and their parents to understand the dangers of alcohol, and to ensure that for those young people who need support there are services available.

“We have a team of school nurses who work with young people around all aspects of health, including alcohol.

“If further support is needed the Young People’s Drug and Alcohol Service (YDAP) is available for young people to access.

“The council also works with ‘Balance’ the local North East alcohol office to share messages about the dangers of alcohol.

“A recent campaign focused on making sure parents are aware of the facts about the dangers of alcohol, with further information on the campaign at www.whatstheharm.co.uk.”