More than 35,000 alcohol-related hospital admissions in a year in Scotland

The number is down from the previous 12 months, NHS Scotland figures show.

Diabetes study
Diabetes study

More than 23,000 Scots were taken to hospital because of their drinking last year, with people from the most deprived areas seven times more likely to need help than those in the most affluent.

Figures for 2017-18 show there were 35,499 alcohol-related hospital admissions – the equivalent of more than 97 a day – involving 23,494 individuals.

The number is down from 36,235 admissions and 24,060 individual patients in 2016-17.

Official statistics show around half (11,566) were admitted for an alcohol-related issue for the first time in 2017-18 or had not been admitted to hospital because of alcohol in the previous 10 years.

NHS figures detailed the alcohol-related admission rate per 100,000 population in general acute hospitals was 668.3 last year, a 2.5% decrease compared to the previous year.

It also found there were seven times as many people per 100,000 admitted to hospitals from the most deprived areas compared to the least deprived areas.

In the psychiatric setting, figures for 2016-17 – which have just been published – showed there were 2,775 alcohol-related stays in psychiatric hospitals, a 3.5% decrease from the previous year.

The latest figures show a general decline in alcohol-related hospital stays since 2007-08 and the latest publication comes amid calls for minimum unit pricing for alcohol to be implemented in all parts of the UK.

Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick said: “We are seeing a continuing and welcome decrease in alcohol-related admissions to hospitals, with admissions down by a fifth over the past decade.

“However, hospital stays remain higher than they were. Our world-leading minimum unit pricing policy aims to reduce alcohol-related harms even further.

“However, it will be around two years at least before we can robustly analyse its impact.

“I want us to go further and today we are launching our new Alcohol Framework with a wide range of measures aimed at tackling alcohol-related harm.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesman Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “Scotland has an enduring unhealthy relationship with alcohol and it’s alarming that there are still so many people being hospitalised.

“The value of the 50p minimum unit price, finally introduced earlier this year, was eroded by inflation in the years the policy was caught up in the courts.

“These statistics show the disturbing trend of alcohol misuse is still affecting families across the country every day.

“Raising the minimum unit price would give us a real opportunity to change that.

“The Scottish Government should set it at a price that is in line with their original ambition.”

In Greater Glasgow, there has been a reduction of 21% in average hospital alcohol-related stays over a year and a pioneering method of treating the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal developed in the city is to trialled on patients around the world.

The Glasgow Modified Alcohol Withdrawal Score project has influenced the management of tens of thousands of patients across NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and led to a particular decline in alcohol-related violent incidents.

Barbara McMenemy, acute addiction manager, said: “It was felt that we needed to have a consistent approach to the management of alcohol withdrawal syndrome to provide the best treatment for patients and reduce the risk of adverse events.

“The result was the Glasgow Modified Alcohol Withdrawal Score, which is based around a simple five symptom-triggered scoring system which then guides treatment.

“It is accompanied by detailed advice regarding its application and, importantly, the protection of vulnerable patients.”

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