Health

Alcohol abuse affects one in five UK inpatients, study suggests

One in five people admitted to a UK hospital drinks alcohol in a harmful way and one in 10 depends on it, a study suggests.

King's College London researchers want people with issues caused by drinking to be screened. They are also calling for more trained staff to give support.

Alcohol can cause a large number of medical conditions, which costs the NHS in the UK around £3.5bn a year.

But many may not be receiving appropriate treatment, they said.

Harmful alcohol use is 10 times higher and dependence eight times higher in hospital inpatients than in other people, the study suggests.

The study was published in the Addiction journal. It looked at 124 past studies and more than 1.5 million patients to estimate how many had any of 26 conditions related to heavy alcohol use.

These included:

  • liver disorders
  • gastrointestinal disorders
  • alcohol poisoning
  • mental disorders because of alcohol use
  • foetal alcohol syndrome

The patients were in general wards, intensive care units, A&E departments or mental health inpatient units.

'Much bigger problem'

The report's lead author, Dr Emmert Roberts, said many doctors knew the problems were common among inpatients.

But he warned: "Our results suggest the problem is much bigger than anecdotally assumed."

Alcohol abuse was most common among patients in mental health units, the report found. Dependence was more common among people in A&E departments.

Dr Roberts said the findings were the most reliable to date.

He said dedicated inpatient alcohol care teams were needed to tackle the issue.

Earlier this year, NHS England announced plans to put alcohol care teams in the 50 hospitals with the highest alcohol-related admissions.

At the time, Simon Stevens, NHS England chief executive, said it would give patients "the support they need".

'Drinking culture'

Kate Oldridge-Turner, head of policy and public affaRead More – Source

BBC

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