Bristol's problem drinkers cost us each £70 a year
EVERY adult in Bristol is paying £70 a year towards the healthcare costs of people who drink too much, it has emerged.
And it is the over-55s whose drinking is costing the NHS the most in the city new data reveals.
The information has been gathered as part of a national survey.
In Bristol about 20 per cent of people are drinking at a level which increases the risk of damaging their health, with 13,609 (4 per cent) drinking alcohol at levels that significantly increases the risk.
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South Gloucestershire and North Somerset residents are paying £68 each towards the cost of healthcare for people drinking too much alcohol. But NHS Bristol's alcohol strategy manager, Katie Porter, said the cost of excessive drinking is also picked up by the police and the council as well as the financial and economic impact on families.
In South Gloucestershire 22 per cent of residents are drinking at a level which could damage their health and 21 per cent in North Somerset.
In Bristol 69,362 people were admitted to hospital in 2010/11 as a result of drinking too much – 43,220 through accident and emergency, 11,284 admitted to hospital as inpatients and 14,858 requiring outpatient care. There were 40,941 South Gloucestershire residents admitted to hospital to excessive alcohol consumption – 21,225 through A&E, 5,578 inpatients and 14,139 outpatients – while in North Somerset there were 31,853 admissions – 22,072 to A&E, 4,908 inpatients and 4,873 outpatients.
The 55-74 age group cost the NHS the most in all three local authorities. People in the age range were costing the NHS £7m in Bristol, £4.2m in South Gloucestershire and £3.6m in North Somerset.
Ms Porter said: "Presenting data as cost per head of population can give something to quantify. Most people cannot relate to deaths and alcohol admissions. Alcohol-related illnesses might be high blood pressure that is linked to drinking too much, or cardiac arrhythmia where the heart might not be beating quite right might be due to alcohol misuse."
She said people should try to stick to recommended drinking guidelines of three to four units of alcohol a day for men and two to three for women – and added that it is recommended to have three alcohol-free days a week.
"If you stop drinking to excess soon enough there can be excellent outcomes but if you leave it too late you don't get them," said Ms Porter.
"Excessive drinking also has its impact on the police and the night-time economy. There is also the cost to families of people with alcohol problems, not just in financial terms but in terms of distress."