Health profile highlights area’s drink problems

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MORE and more people are being admitted to West Suffolk Hospital for alcohol-related problems, according to a recent study.

Although people in the St Edmundsbury area are living longer and healthier lives than the average Englishman, recent findings by the Association of Public Health Observatories have brought to light surprising statistics regarding drink-related hospital admission.

The Health Profile covers all aspects health, from childhood obesity to road injuries and deaths, and the health profile for St Edmundsbury, showed a large number of hospital stays for alcohol-related harm. In the past year, 2,397 people were admitted to hospital for drink-related problems, significantly higher than the regional and national average.

The profile shows 1,825 per 100,000 population admitted to hospital for alcohol-related reasons, compared to a national average of 1,743 per 100,000.

In Mid Suffolk, the number of hospital stays for alcohol-related harm is only 1,297 per 100,000 residents.

Louise Bland, alcohol liver disease nurse specialist at the hospital, said the number of frequent regular attenders had in fact decreased. She said that in the majority of alcohol-related hospital stays, alcohol was not the primary cause of admission, but was logged as a secondary factor after the patient has been admitted.

Eighteen months ago the hospital brought in two specialist posts to focus on alcohol issues.

Chip Somers, chief executive of Focus12, the Bury-based drug and alcohol rehabilitation charity, attributed the high number of alcohol-related hospital admissions to a lack of full-time alcohol support services available. He said the reason why hospital stays for alcohol-related harm were so high was because the local alcohol support services had been reduced.

The profile also showed that road injuries and deaths were significantly higher than average in Forest Heath at 63.6 out of 100,000.