Hospital admissions for drinking ‘slows down’ in Portsmouth

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PORTSMOUTH is turning a corner for the number of people being taken to hospital because of alcohol abuse.

Health officials say the city is finally seeing an improvement in drink-related admissions – in contrast to national and regional trends which show the problem is getting worse.

Nationwide, there was a 12 per cent increase in hospital admissions between 2008/09 and 2009/10, according to the NHS Information Centre.

But in Portsmouth the increase was just four per cent in the same period – compared to the year-on-year increase of seven per cent the city was previously used to.

It means that the number of Portsmouth residents being admitted to hospital because of drink was 4,165 in 2009/10 compared to 3,913 in 2008/09.

And figures for last year show there have been just 41 more admissions.

Dr Paul Edmondson-Jones, director of public health for NHS Portsmouth and the city council, pictured, welcomed the figures.

He said as well as costing the NHS thousands of pounds, excess drinking can lead to poor health, unemployment and ruined relationships.

‘The growing number of alcohol related hospital admissions is a massive national problem,’ he said.

‘NHS Portsmouth has made significant extra investment over the past couple of years to tackle alcohol problems.

‘It is pleasing to see that finally we might be starting to address the continual rise in hospital admissions.’

Neighbouring areas are experiencing more rapid growth in admissions, such as Hampshire (eight per cent growth) and Southampton (18 per cent growth).

The NHS and council in Portsmouth has put the improvement down to the extensive work both organisations have done to reduce drinking in the city.

This includes introducing an alcohol nurse service at Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham, to deal with people who are problem drinkers; the Save Dave campaign to reduce drinking across the city; alcohol workers in GP surgeries and alcohol advice in pharmacies.

The reasons people are admitted to hospital because of drink include liver disease, mental disorders due to alcohol abuse as well as some cancers, accidents and injuries.