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Cost to NHS of treating drinkers over 55 is simply 'staggering'
The cost of treating alcohol problems in middle-aged people in the Bradford district is 9.5 times higher than the bill for treating teenagers and young adults.
The first ever map of alcohol-related health costs in England reveals that the 55 to 74 age band imposes a greater burden on the tax payer than other groups.
Alcohol Concern released a map of alcohol-related health costs so people can see a breakdown of alcohol-related deaths and the number of hospital admissions attributed to alcohol for their local authority district.
In Bradford, alcohol-related inpatient admissions for 55 to 74-year-olds cost £8.6 million and those aged 75 and over cost a further £4.5 million, while 16 to 24-year-olds cost £900,000 and 25 to 54-year-olds, £7.5 million.
The research also found the cost for treating men was almost twice as high as the cost for treating women. In Bradford, male admissions cost £13.6m, while female admissions cost £7.7m.
The total cost of alcohol-related treatment in Bradford was £35m (including £6.7m in A&E attendances and £7m in outpatients appointments) - equating to £88 per adult. Figures for the Bradford district were higher than the Yorkshire and Humber average, with 108,190 alcohol related admission, compared to an average in the region of 72,821.
In Bradford 138 died from alcohol-related causes – 101 men and 37 women – compared to a regional average of 105. Of these deaths 60 were due to chronic liver disease (41 males and 19 women).
Dr Paul Southern, a consultant hepatologist, at Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “The older age group is the one that is associated with liver disease.
“Some of these patients are drinking an awful lot of cheap alcohol but some of them are very respectable people, holding down very important and responsible jobs. They are drinking socially but it ends up being a bottle of wine a night and they end up with us in hospital, shocked that their liver is so damaged.
“It is these people who can afford to drink – the children are off their hands and they enjoy a glass of wine at night but the problem slips and ends up being double the amount of alcohol they should be drinking.”
He said the way Alcohol Concern had presented the data was very powerful. “It makes you look at our city and see how it is being affected by alcohol misuse – 108,190 alcohol-related admissions – it is in your face. In less deprived areas such as York, it is 35,000. But one of the things I would say is that we have advanced reporting systems in Bradford and we are quite good at picking people up, so it they come in with a fractured leg, it isn’t just reported as a fractured leg if alcohol is a factor.”
Alcohol Concern chief executive Eric Appleby said: “It is the common perception that young people are responsible for the increasing cost of alcohol misuse, but our findings show that in reality this is not the case.”
Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, president of the British Gastroenterology Society, added: “It is the unwitting chronic middle-aged drinkers who are taking serious risks with their health.”
Dr John Rodriguez-Arganaraz, 51, of Little Horton, retired, said: “In times of economic hardship people are looking for comforts to get them through the hard times. With the loss of the community hub that was the pub, people get drunk at home much more easily and that’s inevitable.”