Alcohol will claim estimated 63,000 lives over next five years

ALCOHOL-RELATED illness will be responsible for an estimated 63,000 deaths in the next five years, according to a new report from the University of Sheffield Alcohol Research Group.

The majority of these deaths will be due to alcoholic liver disease (22,500) and cancer (32,500). Modelling conducted as part of the research further estimates that between 2017 and 2022, the total cost to the NHS of alcohol-related illness and deaths will be £17 billion.

The Financial case for action on liver disease report has been published by the Foundation for Liver Research and urges the Government to implement a suite of policy measures designed to mitigate the rising health and financial burden of alcohol, including the introduction of minimum unit pricing (MUP), re-institution of alcohol duty escalator and advertising restrictions.

It estimates that a 50p MUP in England would save to public purse £1.1 billion within five years of implementation, with 1,150 fewer alcohol-related deaths, 74,500 fewer alcohol-related hospital admissions, and savings of £325.7m in healthcare costs and £710.9m in crime costs.

Colin Angus, Research Fellow at the University of Sheffield and part of the Sheffield Alcohol Research Group who conducted the research, said: “These new findings show there will be 35 deaths and 2,300 hospital admissions due to alcohol every day in England over the next five years.

“We estimate this will cost the NHS £17billion at a time when healthcare resources are already overstretched. Our research also shows that policies such as Minimum Unit Pricing have the potential to significantly reduce this burden."

Professor Dame Parveen Kumar, BMA board of science chair, commented on the findings: “The BMA has repeatedly called for the introduction of minimum unit pricing across the UK – a call that is all the more urgent as 35 people a day in England are expected to die from alcohol misuse in the next five years.

"Minimum unit pricing in Canada has already seen a significant reduction in wholly alcohol related deaths. Time and again, it has been decisive, if overdue, action by successive governments, such as the public smoking ban, that has had more impact than a single doctor can have in a lifetime.

“While minimum pricing alone won’t solve all alcohol misuse problems, combined with work on education, marketing and the availability of alcohol, it will play an important role in reducing alcohol related harm and the financial burden this places on an already overstretched NHS.”