Cut Wakefield’s £10m NHS booze bill

Westgate on a Saturday night
Westgate on a Saturday night

SPECIALIST nurses and support for drinkers who frequently attend A&E will help cut the city’s £10m NHS booze bill according to a new report.

The Express reported last July that binge drinking was fuelling violent crime across the city and leaving the health service to pick up the multi-million pound bill.

Shocking figures showed that there were more than 20,000 alcohol-related admissions to hospital in 2009, and that 76 per cent of all violent crime committed during nights out was caused by booze.

Figures for binge drinking and chronic liver disease were also well above regional averages, and more than half of all domestic violence cases were alcohol-related.

The details were revealed in a report prepared for Wakefield Council’s community safety overview and scrutiny committee, which also said alcohol was a much greater problem in the city than drugs.

Organisations including NHS Wakefield District, the council and police joined forces to tackle the city’s dangerous booze culture with a national initiative called the Place Based Budgeting project.

The steering group was chaired by Dr Andrew Furber, local director of public health, and its findings will be presented to a meeting of the scrutiny committee on Monday.

Dr Furber said: “Most people in Wakefield district who drink alcohol do so safely and sensibly. However for increasing numbers the price and availability of alcohol has led to harmful levels of consumption.

“Alcohol-related issues impact on a wide range of organisations including health and social care, police services, crime and unemployment.”

Five recommendations made by the group include the implementation of a programme to reduce the impact of alcohol on the workplace.

They say specialist alcohol nurses would reduce the average alcohol consumption of patients, after tracking 25 patients whose attendances at A&E ranged from six to 30 times over a five-month period, costing up to £32,000 per person. The group also recommended a case management approach for those frequently attending A&E.