Too much of the hard stuff: what alcohol costs the NHS
Treating alcohol-related conditions cost the NHS approximately £2.7 billion in 2006/07, almost double the 2001 cost. This new NHS Confederation briefing, produced with the Royal College of Physicians, outlines the extent of the problem and gives examples of where the NHS is managing problem drinkers effectively and efficiently.
NHS Confederation chief executive Steve Barnett says the report highlights the growing pressures alcohol is putting on staff and services, and the need to improve how patients receive treatment.
Mr Barnett said: “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.
“This report shows that not only are we drinking too much but that the cost to our health services is increasing.
“The NHS can play a part in ensuring that treatment is provided for people who are exhibiting the early stages of an addiction to alcohol and by running its services more effectively but a reappraisal of social attitudes to drinking is also well overdue.
“We hope this report helps to outline the scale of the problems facing the NHS and acts as a warning that if we carry on drinking in the way that we are currently, the bar bill will be paid in worse health and a health system struggling to cope.”
President of the Royal College of Physicians Professor Ian Gilmore said: “The nation’s growing addiction to alcohol is putting an immense strain on health services, especially in hospitals, costing the NHS over £2.7billion each year. This burden is no longer sustainable.
"The role of the NHS should not just be about treating the consequences of alcohol related-harm but also about active prevention, early intervention, and working in partnership with services in local communities to raise awareness of alcohol related harm."
The report: "Much of the hard stuff: What alcohol costs the NHS" can be downloaded here