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Minimum Unit Pricing for alcohol could save 2,000 North East lives

Alcohol

There have been further calls on the Government to urgently introduce a minimum unit price (MUP) for alcohol in England after new evidence revealed that it could save almost 2,000 lives in the North East over the next 20 years.

Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, is backing calls from civic leaders including Gateshead Council for the urgent introduction as MUP is introduced in Wales; almost two years since its arrival in Scotland; and weeks after England saw hospital admissions caused by alcohol reach record levels.

The research from the University of Sheffield shows the North East has the most to gain from the introduction of MUP, as it experiences the country's highest rates of alcohol-related deaths and hospital admissions.

A 50p MUP in England would see alcohol consumption in the North East fall by almost twice the national average, leading to greater reductions in alcohol attributable deaths, hospital admissions and crimes.

Councillor Bernadette Oliphant, Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing said:

"Gateshead Council supports the introduction of a minimum price of 50p per unit and we are pleased to have joined with other local authorities and Balance to call on the Government to address this issue which could save dozens of lives in Gateshead in years to come."

Alice Wiseman, Director of Public Health for Gateshead and alcohol lead for Association of Directors of Public Health, said: "A measure like MUP will have the biggest impact on the heaviest at-risk drinkers, while leaving the average moderate drinker virtually untouched. 

"It would also have a huge impact in the North East, which has some of the highest levels of alcohol harm in the country, with rates of alcohol attributable hospital admissions being higher in many places than those found in Wales, where MUP is scheduled to be introduced next week.

"It would play an important role in reducing health inequalities, including closing the health gap between North and South. This is a measure whose time has come and it should be introduced in England without delay."

In the North East, key findings from the research show that with the introduction of a 50p MUP:

  • An estimated 1,970 deaths attributable to alcohol would be prevented over the next 20 years
  • Alcohol consumption would fall by 7.7% in the region, with by far the biggest reductions coming among the heaviest drinkers. Every year high risk drinkers would cut their consumption by the equivalent of around 18 bottles of vodka a year, while the average moderate drinker would reduce their drinking by less than half a bottle of vodka a year
  • Alcohol attributable hospital admissions would fall by an estimated 3,255, reducing the pressure on the NHS, with people from the poorest communities seeing the biggest falls
  • The criminal justice system would also benefit with 4,380 fewer alcohol-related crimes a year
  • Researchers estimate that the cost savings to the NHS in the North East alone would amount to £8.5m a year
Alcohol
02 March 2020

There have been further calls on the Government to urgently introduce a minimum unit price (MUP) for alcohol in England after new evidence revealed that it could save almost 2,000 lives in the North East over the next 20 years.

Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, is backing calls from civic leaders including Gateshead Council for the urgent introduction as MUP is introduced in Wales; almost two years since its arrival in Scotland; and weeks after England saw hospital admissions caused by alcohol reach record levels.

The research from the University of Sheffield shows the North East has the most to gain from the introduction of MUP, as it experiences the country's highest rates of alcohol-related deaths and hospital admissions.

A 50p MUP in England would see alcohol consumption in the North East fall by almost twice the national average, leading to greater reductions in alcohol attributable deaths, hospital admissions and crimes.

Councillor Bernadette Oliphant, Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing said:

"Gateshead Council supports the introduction of a minimum price of 50p per unit and we are pleased to have joined with other local authorities and Balance to call on the Government to address this issue which could save dozens of lives in Gateshead in years to come."

Alice Wiseman, Director of Public Health for Gateshead and alcohol lead for Association of Directors of Public Health, said: "A measure like MUP will have the biggest impact on the heaviest at-risk drinkers, while leaving the average moderate drinker virtually untouched. 

"It would also have a huge impact in the North East, which has some of the highest levels of alcohol harm in the country, with rates of alcohol attributable hospital admissions being higher in many places than those found in Wales, where MUP is scheduled to be introduced next week.

"It would play an important role in reducing health inequalities, including closing the health gap between North and South. This is a measure whose time has come and it should be introduced in England without delay."

In the North East, key findings from the research show that with the introduction of a 50p MUP:

  • An estimated 1,970 deaths attributable to alcohol would be prevented over the next 20 years
  • Alcohol consumption would fall by 7.7% in the region, with by far the biggest reductions coming among the heaviest drinkers. Every year high risk drinkers would cut their consumption by the equivalent of around 18 bottles of vodka a year, while the average moderate drinker would reduce their drinking by less than half a bottle of vodka a year
  • Alcohol attributable hospital admissions would fall by an estimated 3,255, reducing the pressure on the NHS, with people from the poorest communities seeing the biggest falls
  • The criminal justice system would also benefit with 4,380 fewer alcohol-related crimes a year
  • Researchers estimate that the cost savings to the NHS in the North East alone would amount to £8.5m a year
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