Healthcare leaders call on government to prioritise alcohol prevention

The BMA has written to the public health minister to express growing concerns over the impact of alcohol on the nation’s health

The BMA and other leading healthcare organisations have written to the public health minister expressing their growing concerns over the impact that alcohol is having on the nation’s health urging the government to prioritise a new alcohol strategy.

In the letter to Seema Kennedy MP, the BMA board of science chair, Professor Dame Parveen Kumar, along with the chairs of the Royal Colleges, warn of the ‘escalating risk to public health’ as they write:

“Since 2014/15, the number of alcohol-related hospital admissions each year has increased by over 100,000, a worryingly high increase of eight per cent. Despite this, fewer people are accessing treatment even though evidence shows that it is effective for an increasing proportion of people.”

The BMA and Royal Colleges warn that despite recent strategies for obesity and tobacco, there has been a “lack of strategic focus” on alcohol as the letter reads:

“We therefore ask that the government prioritises alcohol in the same manner and works to urgently produce an updated and ambitious national alcohol strategy to tackle this escalating risk to public health.”

Kumar, said: “The normalisation of alcohol in society has meant that unfortunately, not enough is being done to highlight the harm that excess alcohol consumption can have on health; harm that we as healthcare professionals deal with on daily basis.

“As well as the more obvious physical toll and the link to serious conditions such as cancer and liver cirrhosis, the impact that excess alcohol consumption can have on mental health and personal life can often be devastating.

“The cumulative effect of increasingly affordable alcohol, marketing and cuts to public health budgets means we are now witnessing a dangerous trend of increases in hospital-related admissions and alcohol specific-deaths alongside less people seeking treatment or help.

“The case for a new alcohol strategy could not be clearer and failure to tackle the increasing severity of this issue will mean that we will continue on this alarming trajectory resulting in more alcohol-related ill health and deaths.”

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