The number of people dying from alcohol-related causes rose by nearly 40 per cent from 5,287 in 1999 to 7,341 last year, figures obtained by the Conservative MP James Brokenshire, a shadow Home Office minister, show.
The number of deaths among women rose by 32 per cent and among men by 43 per cent. Deaths with an underlying cause related to alcohol among people under 40 rose by 24 per cent, the figures revealed.
The Conservatives blamed the increase on the relaxation of drinking laws in November 2005.
Mr Brokenshire said: “I am increasingly worried that the Government’s decision to introduce 24-hour drinking is having a real impact on antisocial behaviour in our town centres and not nearly enough is being done to tackle it.
“The impact on services like the NHS really can’t go on. The Government seems to be completely unaware of the enormity of the problem of binge drinking in our society and its effects on society and our communities, and its tragic consequences.”
Professor Ian Gilmore, President of the Royal College of Physicians, said: “These figures are a stark reminder of how alcohol, when used to excess, can have a devastating effect not only on hazardous drinkers but their loved ones as well. Government can and should do more.
“A good place to start would be by ensuring that their proposed mandatory code [on the selling and advertising of alcohol] allows the authorities to finally get a handle on irresponsible sales practices.”
The Department of Health said that alcohol “is one of the most challenging public health issues we face”.
“We are working harder than ever to reduce alcohol-related hospital admissions, and to help those who regularly drink too much or are dependent on alcohol,” a spokesman added.
“We are tackling this serious problem by making sure the local NHS has the right services in place. For every pound spent on alcohol intervention, five pounds are saved by the public purse — so this is money well spent.”
By David Rose
Source - http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/health/article6671209.ece