Liver disease crisis: We need minimum alcohol pricing

By on 26/03/2014 in Cllr Bedser, News

Responding to the parliamentary report on liver disease, Birmingham health chiefs have repeated calls for the introduction of minimum pricing for alcohol.

The report from the All-Party Parliamentary Hepatology Group (APPHG) Inquiry states:

  • The lack of action to tackle liver disease in the UK is “scandalous”.
  • Deaths from liver disease in England have risen 40% between 2001-2012.
  • Continuing complacency is leading to a “shameful waste of lives”.
  • Liver disease accounts for the fifth highest number of deaths in the UK, but is the only one of the major killers that does not have a national strategy.

Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, Cllr Steve Bedser, said: “This report confirms what we already know – that cheap, strong alcohol costs lives – and nothing will change until we get to grips with that.

“Although the report highlights other causes of liver disease, there can be no doubt that a minimum unit price for alcohol would be a massive step in the right direction if we want to tackle the scandal of ever more deaths from liver disease in this country.

“It cannot be right that in some cases alcohol is cheaper than water and we desperately need measures to combat that ridiculous situation.”

Director of Public Health, Dr Adrian Phillips, added: Cheap alcohol is killing people and until we get serious about introducing a minimum unit price for alcohol, we’re just playing around here.

“We know that access to cheap, super-strength booze is a driver of so much misery across our city. The figures are shocking. Over 10 per cent of all hospital admissions are linked to alcohol and fifty per cent of domestic violence cases are predicated by alcohol.

“Those statistics will continue to shock until the government accepts the urgent need for minimum pricing. It amazes me that we even need a debate on this.”


Birmingham stats

  • In Birmingham, 25 per cent of men and 17 per cent of women in the city are drinking above safe limits and the damage caused by alcohol misuse includes:
  • At peak times, up to 70 per cent of all admissions to accident and emergency departments in Birmingham are related to alcohol;
  • 3,600 incidents of domestic violence are linked to alcohol misuse;
  • Up to 170,000 working days are lost through alcohol-related absence, costing the city’s economy about £30 million each year;
  • About 20,000 children in Birmingham are affected by parental alcohol problems;
  • Marriages where there are alcohol problems are twice as likely to end in divorce;
  • In 2009, half of all 11 to 15-year-olds in the city had already had an alcoholic drink;
  • Parental alcohol misuse has been identified as a factor in more than 500 child protection cases.

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