Conference on January 30 will look at ideas such as minimum pricing amid research showing alcohol consumption has a huge impact on Liverpool’s productivity and puts a massive strain on the NHS locally. Tony McDonough reports
Liverpool loses £90m in productivity every year due to alcohol and it costs the NHS in the city an estimated £46m a year – and agencies in the city are coming together to discuss ways to tackle the issue.
Those figures came from a report commissioned by North West Employers & Drink Wise North West in 2012 and backed up by a Mayoral Health Commission report published in 2014.
The research also estimated almost 77,000 people in the city are classed as binge drinkers and that the overall annual cost was £228m – more than £500 for every man, woman and child.
Now partners including public health, the city council, the NHS and others are coming together to discuss what more can be done at a conference in the city on Tuesday, January 30, at the Cunard Building on the waterfront.
Speakers will include Dr Richard Piper, the recently appointed chief executive of national body, Alcohol Research UK. One of the options that will be discussed is how Liverpool could influence the introduction of minimum unit pricing.
The policy is to be introduced in Scotland in May and will drive up the cost of super strength lager and cider, some of which costs as little as £1 a litre.
In the last five years, Liverpool has seen a levelling off in the number of people admitted to hospital due to alcohol. However, the city still has the eighth highest hospital admission rate in the country and it is estimated that more than 115,700 adults in Liverpool drink more than they should do.
Councillor Paul Brant, Cabinet member for adult health, said: “We have already had considerable success in Liverpool in tackling alcohol related issues.
“We have reduced the number of hospital admissions caused by drinking too much and carried out a lot of work with bars and clubs in the city centre to make sure they don’t serve people who are excessively drunk.
“However, every single day we still see the immense cost that alcohol has on our city, whether it’s people ending up in accident and emergency, health problems such as liver disease, people becoming drink dependent or the economic impact of absence from work.
“A single can of super-strength lager or cider can contain more than the daily recommended number of units allowed for a man and you can get extremely drunk using just the change in your pocket.
Dr Piper added: “The introduction of a minimum unit price is an important and effective step in addressing the harms caused by alcohol. Scotland and Wales are leading the way with the introduction of the measure later this year and there are signs that Northern Ireland will be pursuing it too.
“It’s vital that England steps up so that the people of Liverpool and elsewhere can be protected from the huge harms that the very cheapest, high strength products cause.
“There is clear evidence to show that as alcohol has become more affordable, instances of alcohol-related ill-health and death have risen. The fact is, something has to be done.”