It comes after the Government announced in January that it will revise how it classifies alcohol-related hospital admissions.
The current figure of more than a million alcohol-related admissions a year is based on all health conditions recorded for each patient, not just the main reason the patient was actually admitted. For example, if a patient is admitted due to a stroke after high blood pressure, a fraction of the case is classified as alcohol-related because high blood pressure is considered an alcohol-related condition.
The trade is concerned that such data influences Government alcohol policies.The 12-week consultation is being carried out by the North West Public Health Observatory, as lead Public Health Observatory for substance misuse, in partnership with the Health & Social Care Information Centre and the Department of Health. It closes on 23 August.
Kate Nicholls, strategic affairs director at the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers, added: “If the industry is to work in partnership with Government to tackle alcohol misuse and encourage responsible consumption, then it is vital that we start with an agreed baseline that puts alcohol-related harms into realistic perspective and the context of wider public health challenges.
“Too often in the past we have seen alcohol-related statistics over-stated and over-played or used as a public health political football, with other contributory factors to the major public health challenges we face in terms of diabetes, cancer and liver disease ignored or overlooked.
“This consultation is an opportunity not only to address that but to get consistency in reporting across the country.”
A spokesman at the British Beer and Pub Association said: “There is widespread recognition that the increasing use of multiple diagnoses is resulting in statistics that show a much higher trend in alcohol-related admissions than would otherwise be the case — something we have been saying for some time.
“This is important, as we all need to rely on data that gives realistic and reliable trends, especially if it is used to influence alcohol policies.
“We will be looking closely at the consultation and will certainly be responding.”