College backs urgent call for new alcohol strategy

Statement / comment
18 July 2019

The Government must urgently produce an updated and ambitious national alcohol strategy to tackle the escalating risk to public health, according to a letter signed by the College and other leading health organisations.

The letter sent to Seema Kennedy MP – minister for public health – urges her and the government to act as the 7,697 alcohol related deaths in 2017 are at their highest level since 2008.

Swathing cuts have been made to public health budgets, which local authorities use to fund alcohol treatment services, since the last strategy was published in 2012.

The 1.2 million alcohol-related hospital admissions in 2017-18 are the highest ever recorded and comes at a time when fewer people are accessing treatment.

Dr Adrian James, registrar of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: “The lack of appropriately funded services means people who need help with their alcohol use disorder are not getting the help they desperately need.

“Lives are being needlessly lost and the physical and mental health consequences are huge.

“There is a lack of focus on evidence-based prevention, such as minimum unit pricing, and more must be done to help older drinkers who present with complex physical and mental health conditions.”

The call for a new strategy comes in the week the government is expected to unveil its prevention green paper. 

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