MORE people are dying because of alcohol in the city than almost anywhere else in the country, a shocking report has revealed.
Only Liverpool and Manchester have worse records for alcohol deaths than Portsmouth.
Now city leaders have vowed to get to the heart of the crisis and help fight the alcohol problem.
Statistics released by Public Health England (PHE) show that 23 people out of every 100,000 in the city died specifically because of alcohol between 2011 to 2013.
And admissions to hospitals because of alcohol are the second highest in the south east, with only Hastings faring worse.
Figures show 528 out of every 100,000 people were admitted to hospital specifically because of alcohol.
Flick Drummond, MP for Portsmouth South, was shocked by the report.
She said: ‘It’s certainly very worrying and we really must do something about it very fast.
‘I think the price of alcohol has something to do with it.
‘Mental health is another issue – maybe people are depressed and anxious and that’s why they are drinking.
‘We need to get to the bottom of this.’
She said there remained areas of deprivation and this could be a factor.
Figures for Havant, Fareham and Gosport were closer to the national average of 11.9.
For alcohol-specific deaths the data showed: Havant (13.4 per 100,000); Gosport (13); and Fareham (9.2).
Hospital admissions from Gosport were the sixth highest in the south east at 424 per 100,000, with Havant at 368 and Fareham at 258.
Steve Evans, a peer recovery support worker for Portsmouth-based Push, said: ‘I am surprised that Portsmouth is the third highest in the country.
‘There are a lot of resources and groups in the city for people with alcohol-related issues. With all the support that is available now, hopefully in the future we can see those figures change and decrease.
‘Portsmouth is a predominantly working-class city and there has always been quite a big drinking culture.
‘In the 1960s, 70s and 80s, binge drinking was socially acceptable and people would drink a lot over the years.
‘I think it will be people who drank a lot during those decades and who might have carried on drinking who are reflected in the statistics. A lot of people who die from alcohol are of an older age.’
The figures show a further drop in the rate of hospital admissions due to alcohol among under-18s, which PHE said was evidence of a continuing decline in young people’s harmful drinking.
Dr Janet Maxwell, the director of public health at Portsmouth City Council, was not available for comment last night.
Councillor Peter Edgar, health spokesman for Gosport Borough Council and Gosport representative on the Portsmouth Health Overview and Scrutiny panel, said: ‘The panel has previously looked at alcohol problems and how to solve them in the city but maybe, following these figures, it is time that we went back and looked at what else we can do.’
Professor Kevin Fenton, director of health and well-being at PHE, said: ‘The decline in hospital admissions from alcohol for under-18s is promising, but current levels of harm caused by alcohol remain unacceptably high, especially within the most deprived communities, who suffer the most from poor health in general.
‘Much of this harm is preventable and we need further action at a national and local level to implement the most effective evidence based policies.’