New figures released for Alcohol Awareness Week show a small rise in the number of Kent people being admitted to hospital for alcohol related issues.
The number of Kent admissions is lower than the England rate (529 people compared to 651 per 100,000) however parts of Kent are causing concern with Canterbury, Dartford and Gravesham higher or similar to the England rate, while the number of men being admitted to hospital continues to be considerably higher than women.
The theme of this year’s Alcohol Awareness Week (14 to 21 November) – led by Alcohol Concern – focusses on alcohol and health, and knowing the risks associated with alcohol such as cancer, dementia, depression, diabetes and hypertension.
Kent hospitals treat approximately 20,000 cases* of alcohol related illness and injury a year. There is also a huge impact on emergency and health services due to accidents on the road, in the workplace and the home. Alcohol-related issues cost the NHS in Kent an estimated £108million a year.
In Kent, it is believed that more than 327,000 people are drinking at dangerous levels which increase their risk of many illnesses and conditions and may well lead to them dying earlier than they should.
KCC Director for Public Health, Andrew Scott-Clark said: “People still don’t realise how much alcohol they are drinking and the harm it is causing their health in the short and long term. We continue to raise awareness of the recommended drinking levels which are to not regularly exceed more than 14 units a week.
“We know that people struggle with this measure so consider that one pint of strong beer or cider equals three units, as does a large glass (250ml) of wine. A small glass of wine (175ml) amounts to two units while a bottle of beer can mean 1.5 units but these can all vary depending on the alcoholic strength of the drink.”
KCC supports the national campaign to raise awareness of alcohol issues and commissions a number of services, working closely with partner agencies from across health, community and voluntary sectors to spread the message about the recommended drinking levels and provide specialist support and treatment for those who are identified as needing further help to cut back.
Its ‘Know Your Score’ interactive online test – www.kent.gov.uk/knowyourscore – can help give some initial guidance by asking users a series of simple questions to help them gauge how much alcohol they are consuming and the effects it could have on their health, in both the short and long-term. Depending on their score, appropriate key messages and vital advice about where to find help are then delivered by a number of different experts and health professionals direct to your desktop.
Claire Begent, Service Manager at the West Kent Drug and Alcohol Wellbeing Service, part of KCC-commissioned drug and alcohol charity ‘change, grow, live’ (CGL) said: “Change, grow, live (CGL) welcomes this important opportunity during Alcohol Awareness Week, to encourage people to think critically about the role that alcohol plays in their lives. It is widely known that excessive drinking can seriously damage health and have a detrimental impact on families and our communities.
“The reasons people use substances, whether they are drugs or alcohol, are endless and often very unique to the individual. Alcohol specifically is something that has become very commonplace in our society. Cost, availability and the culture that surrounds drinking alcohol may contribute to its use becoming more prevalent, this makes it more important than ever for people to think about how much they drink.”
CGL’s West Kent Drug and Alcohol Wellbeing Service works closely with KCC Public Health to inform the public in west Kent about the potential consequences of misusing alcohol and to provide treatment options to help individuals make healthy, informed decisions about their lives. Turning Point provides services in the east of the county.
Andrew Scott-Clark continues: “Although the vast majority of people in Kent enjoy drinking alcohol sensibly and within recommended guidelines, there are many who do not realise or are seriously under-estimating how much they drink and the impact it has on so many health conditions. It is crucial that people take responsibility and act because alcohol related harm is largely preventable.”
For more information on the treatment, support and recovery services available, go to www.kent.gov.uk/social-care-and-health/health/alcohol-and-drug-support
Note to editors:
*Cases relates to the number of alcohol-related episodes rather than people ie when a person is admitted for hospital care they can have several episodes of care during one hospital spell.
Data source: Local Alcohol Profiles for England. Public Health England (http://www.lape.org.uk/data.html)