Underage drinking costs NHS £19m a year

By Ewan Turney

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Drinking culture, Cost, Alcohol intoxication

Under-18s: rise in alcohol-related hospital admissions
Under-18s: rise in alcohol-related hospital admissions
Underage drinking, fuelled by the "ludicrously cheap price of alcohol" in supermarkets, is costing the National Health Service £19m a year. The...

Underage drinking, fuelled by the "ludicrously cheap price of alcohol" in supermarkets, is costing the National Health Service £19m a year.

The Alcohol Concern report said that the number of under-18s admitted to hospital due to alcohol increased by 32% between 2002 and 2007 — with 36 being admitted each day.

Alcohol Concern found that over the last five years London Ambulance Service has responded to 11,780 alcohol-related call-outs involving under-18s at a cost of over £2.5m.

In 2009-10 West Midland Ambulance Service responded to 1,296 alcohol-related call-outs involving under-18s at a cost of almost £250,000, while the North East Ambulance Trust responded to just under a thousand at a cost of £175,000.

Between 2004 and 2009, 28% more girls were admitted to hospital than boys.

"As long as alcohol remains as heavily promoted as it currently is, young drinkers will continue to consume far more than they might otherwise, leading to inevitable health harms, wasting ambulance and police time," said Alcohol Concern chief executive Don Shenker.

"As well as tackling the ludicrously cheap price of alcohol in some settings, we want all under-18-year-olds who turn up at A&E to be advised and supported to address their drinking."

Professor Jonathan Shepherd of Cardiff University said: "Any emergency treatment for a child as a result of alcohol intoxication comes as a shock.

"Every report represents a sad story, a child in need and a teachable moment in a child's family.

"These findings demonstrate as never before the need to capitalise on every episode of emergency treatment to educate and protect."

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