- Advertisement -spot_imgspot_imgspot_img
10.9 C
Bradford
Tuesday, June 18, 2024

North East facing alcohol ‘crisis’ as £1.5 billion cost to region revealed

The harm caused by alcohol is costing the North East nearly £1.5 billion per year, according to “staggering” new research.

New figures have revealed that the annual cost of alcohol’s impact on the NHS, social care services, crime and the North East economy equates to £562 per head – the worst of any region in England.

Health bosses have branded the region’s drink problem a “crisis” and warned that the North East “simply can’t afford for alcohol to be taking such a financial toll”.

The analysis, conducted by the Institute of Alcohol Studies (IAS), highlights an increase of more than 40% in the total cost of alcohol-related harm since a study was last carried out in 2003.

Maxine Thompson-Curl, whose son Kristian suffered a catastrophic brain injury and later died after a one-punch attack on a night out in Consett, said alcohol is too cheap to buy and should not be “constantly promoted and celebrated”.

The yearly £1.49 billion costs to the North East include a £290 million burden on the NHS linked to hospital admissions, A&E attendances, and treating alcohol dependence, £812 million relating to crimes including assaults, thefts, and criminal damage, £158 million spent by local councils on social services, and more than £225 million as a result of lost earnings, unemployment and absenteeism.

Alice Wiseman, director of public health for Newcastle and Gateshead, claimed that a “lack of national action and zero regulation of the alcohol industry has failed vulnerable people and hit our public finances”.

Ms Wiseman, speaking on the day she was due to give evidence on the subject to the Commons Health and Social Care Select Committee, added: “The utterly heart-breaking thing is that many alcohol harms are totally preventable.  During times of austerity, we simply can’t afford for alcohol to be taking such a financial toll on the region and it is staggering to see the impact on frontline services across the North East.

“Just like for tobacco, we need a national conversation about how we tackle this crisis starting with an independent review. We know that by reducing how affordable, available and how appealing alcohol is we can reduce alcohol harms.  The health and wealth of our region depend on it and we implore national Government to take this problem seriously.”

This is how much alcohol harm is costing every area of the North East per year, according to the IAS:

  • Newcastle – £181.5 million (£608 per person)
  • Gateshead – £106.2 million (£541 per person)
  • North Tyneside – £99.3 million (£475 per person)
  • South Tyneside – £77.3 million (£523 per person)
  • Sunderland – £157.3 million (£574 per person)
  • Northumberland – £146.1 million (£454 per person)
  • County Durham – £277.1 million (£532 per person)
  • Darlington – £62.7 million (£579 per person)
  • Hartlepool – £62.9 million (£679 per person)
  • Middlesbrough – £117.6 million (£818 per person)
  • Redcar and Cleveland – £77.6 million (£568 per person)
  • Stockton – £120.8 million (£613 per person)

Mrs Thompson-Curl, of South Shields, founded the One Punch UK charity with husband Tony in memory of their son.

She said: “The Government is taking action on smoking and put cigarettes behind screens in shops because it kills people but what about alcohol? Alcohol kills people as well, both directly or indirectly from the actions of other people who are under the influence.

“We need more action on alcohol – it is too cheap and I would like to see it promoted less, less available and to see Minimum Unit Price like in Scotland. Rather than constantly promoted and celebrated, we need alcohol to be taken far more seriously to protect more people in the future from being attacked, from becoming ill or from dying as a result.”

Susan Taylor, of alcohol and tobacco reduction campaign Fresh and Balance, echoed the calls for “real action urgently to tackle this alcohol crisis and ensure that the prosperity of our region isn’t further compromised”.

She added: “Many of these statistics represent a personal tragedy. The North East suffers the worst alcohol harms in the country – and this impact is rising year on year for our people, our streets, our health and our economy.”

The Department for Health and Social Care said: “Through our 10-year drug strategy, supported by £532 million, we are helping up to 54,500 more people receive alcohol and drug support, and we are also funding specialist alcohol care teams in hospitals in England with the highest rates of alcohol harm and socioeconomic deprivation.

“Last August, the Government also introduced reforms to alcohol duty – meaning products are taxed directly in proportion to their alcohol content, and we are reviewing the official cost of alcohol harm estimates to support us in our efforts to address the harms associated with alcohol.”

- Advertisement -spot_img

Latest News