Trip to casualty hammers home the costs of alcohol abuse
Council leaders visited the emergency services’ frontline in casualty to witness at first hand the massive costs of alcohol abuse.
Cheshire East Council Chief Executive Erika Wenzel and health and wellbeing chief Councillor Andrew Knowles saw the huge strains placed on 999 crews and medical staff by drink-related incidents during their visit to Macclesfield District General Hospital’s A&E department on Saturday night (December 4).
In one incident, three police officers were needed to deal with a drunken man who needed treatment, while in an adjoining cubicle a young couple awaited treatment for their sick baby.
Council bosses also witnessed the harm alcohol can have on people’s mental health, including being present when two people who had attempted suicide after heavy drinking were admitted for treatment and seeing one woman who was hallucinating after not having a drink for four days.
Recent figures show that alcohol-related illness and injuries costs Central and Eastern Cheshire Primary Care Trust (PCT) about £34m a year.
Cllr Andrew Knowles, Cabinet member with responsibility for health and wellbeing, said: “Visiting casualty on a busy Saturday night was a real eye-opener and showed all too vividly the huge impact alcohol abuse has on the already-stretched resources of our police, ambulance crews, nurses and doctors.
“The 999 workers and hospital staff were fantastic and showed real dedication in sometimes very challenging circumstances dealing with drunken patients.
“Cheshire East Council is working hard with partners to try to tackle alcohol abuse and greatly reduce the huge burden to our taxpayers – which costs the PCT alone about £34m a year. This is money which could be spent elsewhere on tackling less-preventable health problems or on care for the elderly.
“It is crucial that people are sensible with alcohol and drink only in moderation. Doing this will help save our local taxpayers millions of pounds each year and improve life opportunities and health for everyone in Cheshire East.”
Mrs Wenzel added: “I was very impressed by the professionalism and dedication of all the emergency services’ and hospital staff.
“Alcohol abuse is an increasingly-serious problem nationwide – and we all have a role to play in tackling it.”
Are you really aware of the effects that alcohol can have on your health and wellbeing?
A health report by the Government last week revealed regular heavy drinking is leading to a rapid rise in liver disease, which is now the fifth-biggest cause of death in England.
A recent campaign to help tackle alcohol abuse among young people and find out about their drinking habits, carried out by the drink awareness charity Drinkaware, showed that more than one in three young adults goes out with the intention of getting drunk.
Despite this, 75 per cent of 18-24-year-olds regret their drunken behaviour, which includes:
● 27 per cent not knowing how they got home;
● 18 per cent having a one-night stand;
● Three per cent ending up in hospital.
Drinking alcohol is linked to both anxiety and depression. A recent UK survey found that people suffering from anxiety or depression were twice as likely to be heavy or problem drinkers.
Alcohol has also been linked to self-harm, suicide and psychosis. It has been estimated that alcohol plays a part in up to 65 per cent of suicides in the UK.
Last Christmas, more than 4,000 people were breath tested in Cheshire and 201 were arrested for being over the drink-drive limit.
Cheshire East Council is working with strategic partners to reduce the impact of alcohol on health, crime and the number of alcohol-related hospital admissions.
The joint Alcohol Strategy was launched at a conference at Sandbach, in July, in partnership with the PCT. Alcohol Awareness Week was held from October 18-24.
The estimated cost of alcohol to the NHS is around £2.7bn every year.
For more information contact Cheshire East Council’s health improvement team on 01270 686600 or visit the Alcohol Concern website at: www.alcoholconcern.org.uk