Increase in drink related hospital admissions for children

Monday 25th October, 2010

A report by charity Alcohol Concern has revealed the number of under-18s admitted to hospital for drinking is on the increase.

Statistics show that underage drinkers consume approximately the equivalent of 6.9 million pints of beer or 1.7 million bottles of wine each year and alcohol contributes to 5% of young people’s deaths – 1.4% more than in the adult population. The UK currently has the highest rates in Europe of teenage alcohol-related injuries.

The Alcohol Concern report also found that drinkers being admitted to Accident and Emergency departments can be as young as ten years-old and the cost of treatment to the NHS is £19 million per year.

During a five year period between 2002 and 2007, the London Ambulance Service responded to nearly 12,000 alcohol-related call-outs involving under-18s. In 2009/10, the West Midlands Ambulance Service was called to 1,296 call-outs relating to alcohol while the North East Ambulance Trust responded to nearly one thousand call-outs.

In the majority of cases, ambulance crews treated more young girls than boys. This trend reflects figures in the report which found that between 2004 and 2008, 28 per cent more girls were admitted to hospital for alcohol than boys.

Accident and Emergency admissions for alcohol poisoning among under-18s stood at 25,767 between 2007 and 2009 although the report suggests this is underestimated due to incidents not always being accurately recorded.

The report, titled ‘Right time, right place: Alcohol-harm reduction strategies with children and young people’, calls for early intervention for children identified as being at risk of drinking after attending A&E for alcohol or being caught up with the Police for alcohol related crime.

Alcohol Concern Chief Executive, Don Shenker said:

“As long as alcohol remains as heavily promoted as it currently is, young drinkers will continue to consume far more than they might otherwise, leading to inevitable health harms, wasting ambulance and police time.”

“As well as tackling the ludicrously cheap price of alcohol in some settings, we want all under-18-year-olds who turn up at A&E to be advised and supported to address their drinking.”

“There are some excellent examples of police and ambulance crews working hand in hand with youth and alcohol services and these should be properly funded and rolled out to ensure we give young people the best chance of changing their behaviour.”



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