HEAVY boozers are taking up one in five NHS beds, a study reveals.
It shows 19.8 per cent of patients in UK hospitals drink to harmful levels.
1 Alcohol abuse can cause a wide range of illnesses, including heart disease, stroke, liver, cancer, and pancreatitisCredit: Getty – Contributor
The King’s College London analysis looked at 124 studies involving 1.6 million sick Brits.
It found one in ten beds are taken up by alcoholics – with their use of hospital beds eight times higher than the average population.
Heavy drinkers were most likely to be found in A&Es and mental health inpatient units.
Experts estimate alcohol abuse costs the NHS £3.5 billion annually.
Lead researcher Dr Emmert Roberts, from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King’s College London, said: “Many doctors are aware that alcohol-related conditions are common among hospital inpatients, but our results suggest the problem is much bigger than assumed.
“Medics need to have alcohol misuse at the forefront of their mind. It is driving many needless hospital visits.”
Alcohol abuse can cause a wide range of illnesses, including heart disease, stroke, liver, cancer, and pancreatitis.
Health bosses have committed to putting crack medical teams into a quarter of the worst-affected hospitals to lecture boozers on quitting.
NEEDLESS HOSPITAL VISITS
But Dr Roberts says all NHS trusts need Alcohol Care Teams to spot problem drinking.
He added: “There is a huge amount of admissions due to alcohol use disorders in hospitals.
“We need to introduce screening across the NHS and get better at spotting it, so we can treat people to prevent distress and needless readmissions.”
UK drinking guidelines were revised in 2016, with officials recommending no more than 14 units of alcohol weekly – roughly six pints of beer, or six standard 175ml glasses of wine.
England’s top doctor has previously warned there are no “safe” levels of drinking.
Professor Dame Sally Davies said even one pint or glass of wine a week increases the risk of cancer.
Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, Chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance UK, said: “It’s worrying to see such high levels of alcohol dependence among hospital patients.
“More than 80 people die of alcohol-related causes across the UK every day, and there are more than one million alcohol-related hospital admissions every year, in England alone.
“We are urging the Government to prioritise reducing the harm alcohol causes.”
NHS England Chief Executive Simon Stevens said: “Alcohol dependence can devastate families with the NHS often left to pick up the pieces, yet the right support can save lives.“The NHS Long Term Plan will expand specialist alcohol care teams in hospitals across the country to tackle problem drinking and prevent 50,000 admissions over the next five years.”
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