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Responding to the release on 14 December 2016 of the 2015 Health Survey for England, Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance UK, said:
"We welcome the continuing downward trend in children aged 8-15 being exposed to alcohol.
However, the figures for adults are worrying as they reveal that in 2015, 31% of men and 16% of women in England drank more than the current low risk weekly guideline of 14 units a week spread out across 4-5 days.
Drinking above the low risk guideline places people at increased risk of illnesses like heart disease, liver disease and cancer.
The most recent UK guidelines on low-risk drinking, and the reasons behind them, have simply not been communicated adequately. The government needs to ensure the public are aware of the current drinking guidelines, as well as the harms associated with alcohol. The public have the right to know, so they can make informed choices about their drinking.
The government should communicate the risks in two ways.
Firstly, the government should develop mass media campaigns outlining the risks. These could include TV and radio advertisements, social media campaigns, and messages on public transport.
Second, the government should introduce mandatory labelling of all alcoholic products, containing clear and legible health information about the harms associated with drinking."
HCV Action has produced a new resource, aimed at helping commissioners and service providers better understand hepatitis C treatment pathways.
The Hepatitis C Commissioning Toolkit, an update to the original toolkit published in September 2013, sets out key commissioning responsibilities, with the intention of bringing clarity to an often highly fragmented commissioning landscape.
In a foreword to the toolkit, Dr Steve Ryder, chairman of HCV Action and Consultant Hepatologist at, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “With new treatments becoming available that can cure upwards of 95% of people, we now have the opportunity to eliminate this preventable and curable virus. “Commissioners have a major role to play. It is no exaggeration to say that commissioners, whether based in local authorities, CCGs or NHS England, will decide whether nor not we capitalise on the opportunity we now have to tackle this costly virus and ultimately eliminate it.”
To find out more > click here.
On 6th December the APPG on Alcohol Harm has launched its report on the Impact of alcohol on the emergency services.
The Frontline Battle report Download Alcohol Health Alliance The Frontline Battle.pdf reveals the full extent of the pressures and dangers alcohol related problems place on our emergency services and the impact this has on the staff who serve on the frontline.
As part of the Inquiry, the group of parliamentarians took evidence from police officers, fire crew and paramedics, and also collected written evidence.
A press release can be found below:
Abused, attacked and over stretched - Parliamentary report lays bare the impact of alcohol on our emergency services
At an event in Parliament on Tuesday 6th December a report from the All Party Parliamentary Group on Alcohol Harm revealed the full extent of the pressures and dangers alcohol related problems place on our front line emergency services.
The group of parliamentarians took evidence from police officers, fire crew and paramedics, and also collected written evidence, including extensive surveys of emergency service staff across England. Findings in the report include:
• Over 50% of police officers report that alcohol related incidents make up the majority of their workload.
• Surveys find that over 80% of police officers had been assaulted by people who had been drinking, and of those more than 20% had been assaulted six or more times.
• 59% of female police officers and 33% of male officers report sexual assault or harassment while on duty.
Ambulance and A&E departments:
• Over 70% of all attendances at A&E departments are alcohol related at weekends.
• Drunken patients regularly cause significant problems for clinical staff and other patients, with clinicians reporting that they face aggression, violence and being personally assaulted by drunken patients.
• On average alcohol related fires cost almost five times as much as other fires, and are more likely to involve fatalities.
• Fire and rescue services now rescue more people from road traffic collisions than from house fires, with drink driving a continuing problem.
The group of Parliamentarians were also told that alcohol puts a significant and damaging strain on our emergency services, and that many of these incidents were avoidable if the right action was taken.
See the report introduction for quotes from emergency service personnel – Download Alcohol Health Alliance The Frontline Battle.pdf
Fiona Bruce MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Alcohol Harm, said: “It should be wholly unacceptable to hear of an A&E consultant being kicked in the face, medical staff having TV’s thrown at them, or female police officers being sexually assaulted. And it’s not just emergency staff who suffer; as this report describes many other people are impacted too, from taxpayers who foot the bill, to patients who can’t be seen promptly, or worse, those innocent people killed in avoidable drunk driving accidents.”
“Urgent action, as described in this report, is needed from Government at the highest level in order to address this.”
Steve Irving, Executive Officer of the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives, said: “The ambulance service attends too many patients suffering from alcohol-related injuries or illnesses, many of which would not occur without the consumption of excess alcohol. This takes valuable resources away from patients who may be seriously ill so it is clear that more widespread safe drinking, in moderation, would significantly relieve the pressure on ambulance services and the wider health economy, especially emergency departments of local hospitals.”
“ The ambulance service also attends many alcohol-related road traffic collisions each year, some of which result in death and serious injury to members of the public. This is why AACE is actually in favour of ultimately lowering the drink driving limit to zero.”
Amongst others, the report recommendations include:
• A Government-led, cross-departmental National Strategy, to engage all of the appropriate Government Departments on a strategic level.
• Lowering the drink drive limit in England and Wales from 80mg alcohol/100ml blood to 50mg/100ml. This would reduce drink driving fatalities by at least 10%, and is supported by many motoring and roads safety charities, as well as 77% of the British public.
• Reducing the affordability of cheap and high-strength alcohol, by introducing a minimum unit price (MUP) for alcohol, and reinstating the alcohol duty escalator in order to ensure the tax system both addresses alcohol harm, and incentivises the development and sale of lower strength products.
Alcohol Concern provides the secretariat for the All Party Parliamentary Group on Alcohol Harm and welcomes the recommendations made by the report.
Joanna Simons, Chief Executive of Alcohol Concern, said: “The costs of alcohol harm to the UK are huge, not only in terms on lives lost but also through the significant impact on society and our emergency services. Alcohol costs us all, even when we’re not buying alcohol ourselves.”
“What this report highlights is the enormous pressure our emergency service staff face every day. We need the UK Government to act and take steps to implement the report’s recommendations, including lowering the drink drive limit and tackling cheap and high-strength alcohol, which we know will work in reducing alcohol-related harms and ease the strain on frontline staff.”
The report provides a full list of recommendations – Download Alcohol Health Alliance The Frontline Battle.pdf
For more information, please contact: Office of Fiona Bruce MP: firstname.lastname@example.org / Tel: 0207 219 2969
(1) Institute of Alcohol Studies. Drink driving factsheet
(2) Allsop R, (2015)., ‘Saving Lives by Lowering the Legal Drink-Drive Limit’. PACTS
In October the Hepatitis C Coalition, Public Health England and Local Government Association held a workshop on ‘Testing Times: Maintaining and Improving Public Health Testing Services.’
To view a report of the event click > here.
Leading representatives from the alcohol harm reduction, children's, homelessness and religious sectors have today called for action on the harm done by cheap alcohol.
43 organisations and experts have written to the Chancellor calling on him to implement targeted measures such as a minimum unit price for alcohol and increased taxes on high strength white cider, to lower the burden of cheap alcohol on our most vulnerable groups, our NHS and public services, and the economy.
Their call comes in response to a report released today by Public Health England, which finds that raising the price of the cheapest alcohol products is the most powerful tool at the Government's disposal to tackle the harm done by the cheapest alcohol.
The report, published in the Lancet, explains that alcohol is the leading cause of ill health, early death and disability amongst 15-49 year olds in England, and results in 167,000 years of working life lost. The report estimates the annual cost of alcohol harm to the UK in 2016 to be between 1.3% and 2.7% of GDP, which equates to £27billion and £52billion.
In October 2016, a review of alcohol prices by the Alcohol Health Alliance UK found an abundance of cheap, high strength drinks across the UK. Researchers were able to find products like high strength white ciders, which are predominantly drunk by dependent and underage drinkers, available for as little as 16p per unit. This means that for the cost of a standard off-peak cinema ticket it is possible to buy almost seven and a half litres of high strength white cider, containing as much alcohol as 53 shots of vodka.
Last month, a study found that, in England alone, the introduction of a 50p minimum unit price could reduce alcohol deaths by around 7,200, and reduce healthcare costs by £1.2 billion over 20 years.
Responding to the Public Health England report, Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance UK, said:
"This report provides yet more evidence of the effectiveness of raising the price of the cheapest alcohol to tackle alcohol-related harm.
Increased duty on the cheapest drinks, alongside minimum unit pricing, would make a real difference to the lives of some of our most vulnerable groups and ease the burden on our health service. These measures would also lower the burden of premature mortality due to alcohol, thereby increasing economic output.
At the same time, ordinary drinkers will not be penalised. Minimum unit pricing will leave pub prices untouched, and tax on the cheapest, strongest drinks will be targeted at those drinks which are preferentially consumed by harmful and dependent drinkers".
For further information, please contact Matt Chorley, the AHA's Policy and Communications Officer, at email@example.com or on 0203 075 1726.
MPs have called for improved support for the hundreds of people living with illnesses derived from contaminated blood transfusions.
Voting in the House of Commons last week, MPs backed a call for funds to be used from the sale of Plasma Resources UK, a sum of £230 million.
The MPs also expressed concern at government plans to hand the management of the support scheme in England to the private sector.
In a vote backed by members of all parties, MPs stated that the "contaminated blood scandal was one of the biggest treatment disasters in the history of the NHS."
The government says it has already taken new steps to help those affected. There is to be a new payment of £3,500 a year for those newly diagnosed with stage 1 hepatitis C linked to contaminated blood.
But MPs voted that this was "not commensurate with the pain and suffering caused," calling for help for bereaved families. And they called for recipients to have the choice of taking lump sum compensation.
Introducing the debate, the Labour MP for Kingston upon Hull North, Diana Johnson, said: "Although we are all agreed on the need for a reformed scheme, I cannot agree with the Department of Health that its proposed settlement is sufficient."
Ms Johnson told MPs about Glen Wilkinson, diagnosed with hepatitis C after a dental procedure at the age of 19. She said: "He has had to live with the virus all his life and is still waiting for proper recognition of how it has affected him. I hope that the Minister and the Government will now work to ensure that Glen and others can live the rest of their lives in dignity."
Former Conservative health minister Alistair Burt raised the issue of people co-infected with HIV and hepatitis C. He said some 250 remain alive out of 1,200. Mr Burt said: "This is a collective shame, because Government after Government have not grasped that this just needs a final settlement. We can find the money for other things."
Health minister Nicola Blackwood rejected calls for a public inquiry, claiming it would not provide further information. She said: "I believe it is right that the Government’s focus is on considering how best to create and implement a system with the increased budget that is affordable, that redesigns the inconsistencies that we have heard about, and supports those most affected by these tragic events now and into the future."
ALCOHOL will cause around 135,000 cancer deaths over the next 20 years and will cost the NHS an estimated £2 billion in treatments, according to estimates from a new report* by Sheffield University, commissioned by Cancer Research UK**.
The new figures, published today reveal that by 2035 the UK could see around 7,100 cancer deaths every year that are associated with alcohol. Of the cancer types included in the report, oesophageal cancer is set to see the largest increase, followed by bowel cancer, mouth and throat cancer, breast cancer and liver cancer***.
The report also forecasts that there will be over 1.2 million hospital admissions for cancer over the 20 year period, which will cost the NHS £100 million, on average, every year.
The results were based on analyses that assume alcohol drinking trends will follow those seen over the last 40 years, and takes recent falls in alcohol consumption, including among young people, into account****.
Evidence suggests that the more alcohol you drink, the higher the risk of cancer. UK government guidelines, published earlier this year, advise that both men and women drink no more than 14 units of alcohol a week.
The latest figures follow a Cancer Research UK study published earlier in the year that showed 9 in 10 people are unaware of the link between alcohol and cancer *****.
The report also examined the impact of introducing a minimum unit price for alcohol in England. It found that over 20 years a 50p minimum price per units of alcohol could reduce deaths linked to alcohol by around 7,200, including around 670 cancer deaths. It would also reduce healthcare costs by £1.3 billion. This follows a recent court decision in Scotland which found that a minimum unit price would not break European law.
Alison Cox, the Director of Prevention at Cancer Research UK, said: "These new figures reveal the devastating impact alcohol will have over the coming years. That's why it's hugely important the public are aware of the link between alcohol and cancer, and what they can do to improve their risk. If we are to change the nation's drinking habits and try to mitigate the impact alcohol will have then national health campaigns are needed to provide clear information about the health risks of drinking alcohol."
Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance, said: "These latest figures show the serious consequences for individuals, the NHS and society if the UK government continues to ignore the consequences of the nation's drinking. In particular they reinforce the need for a minimum unit price (MUP) for alcohol. It is clear from the report that MUP will save lives, including those lost to cancer, and ease the burden on our health service. Importantly, MUP will do this while leaving moderate drinkers and prices in pubs and bars unaffected.
In addition, we need mandatory health information on the labels of all alcoholic products, informing the public of the link between alcohol and cancer, and the new low-risk drinking guidelines.
The public have the right to know about how their drinking impacts their health, so that they are empowered to make informed choices."
* The report –'Alcohol and Cancer Trends: Intervention Scenarios'– is available upon request from the cancer research UK press office.
** Alcohol trends were estimated across the whole population for England in 2015-2035. Using a scenario that incorporates both the recent shifts in consumption alongside longer-term trends, the average consumption is estimated to be 14.6 units/week and the abstention rate 20.7%.
Scenario in 20 years with no change (baseline)
Health outcomes: mortality
All deaths from alcohol-related conditions - 12,778
All deaths from alcohol-related cancers - 7,097
Oesophageal cancer - 3,674
Other head and neck cancer - 887
Colorectal cancer - 1369
Liver cancer - 333
Breast cancer - 835
**** Smoking drinking and drug use among young people in England in 2014: Health and Social Care Information Centre, 2015. http://content.digital.nhs.uk/catalogue/PUB17879.
*****Based on figures from a Cancer Research UK commissioned report 'An investigation of public knowledge of the link between alcohol and cancer', 2016.
For further information about Cancer Research UK's work or to find out how to support the charity, please call 0300 123 1022 or visit www.cancerresearchuk.org .
The theme for the week for this year is Know The Risks and will focus on a different topic each day:
• Monday 14th November – Alcohol and cancer
• Tuesday 15th November – Alcohol and depression
• Wednesday 16th November – Alcohol and dementia
• Thursday 17th November – Alcohol and breast cancer
• Friday 18th November – Alcohol and diabetes
• Saturday 19th November - Alcohol and hypertension
• Sunday 20th November – Alcohol and brain damage
Alcohol Concern have an e-book available on their website ready for people to download, as well as some infographics. It includes information on the week and is available > here.
The hashtag for the week is #AAW2016.
Please do promote within your networks if possible. The Alcohol Health Alliance (AHA) as always are happy to support any work being doing throughout the week and should any assistance be required please contact Laura McLeod, Policy and Advocacy Manager - Alcohol Health Alliance at LMcLeod@alcoholconcern.org.uk or by telephone on: 0203 815 8930.