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Excessive drinking in Britain “costing NHS £2.7bn a year”

4 January 2010

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The growing culture of heavy drinking in Britain is costing the NHS some £2.7bn a year, according to a new report.

The cost of excessive drinking had doubled in the past five years, the report from the NHS Confederation and Royal College of Physicians said.

The report said systems to identify, assess and treat patients with alcohol problems needed to be improved.

It also said there needed to be a wider change in society’s attitudes to drink.

The bulk of the financial burden is falling on hospitals and ambulance services, which are forced to deal with people who get into difficulties after drinking too much, but there is also a cost in long-term health conditions caused by drinking over many years.

Steve Barnett, Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents NHS managers, said alcohol was putting growing pressure on staff and services.

“With only one in 18 people dependent on alcohol receiving treatment, and wide variation in the types of specialist services available, we know that more needs to be done to help identify and treat patients,” he said.

“This report shows that not only are we drinking too much but that the cost to our health services is increasing.”

Copyright © Press Association 2010

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