Rise in people seeking help for problem drinking in Newham, figures show

The number of people receiving specialist treatment for problem drinking in Newham rose last year. P

The number of people receiving specialist treatment for problem drinking in Newham rose last year. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

The number of people receiving specialist treatment for problem drinking in Newham rose last year, figures show.

Public Health England data reveals 468 people received treatment at alcohol misuse services in Newham in 2017-18, roughly one in every 1,000 people.

This was up from 290 people who used the services three years earlier.

Policy director at the British Liver Trust, Vanessa Hebditch, commenting on national figures, urged the government to raise taxes on alcoholic drinks and tighten advertising rules.

Ms Hebditch said: "There has been a big shift in the UK's drinking culture and one in five adults drink alcohol at a harmful level.

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"To make a lasting change, we need to tackle prevention. This means as well as providing effective treatment and supporting those people with alcohol problems, we need a population wide approach."

The figures relate to the national drug treatment monitoring system, which counts how many adults receive help for drink and drug-related problems in England.

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In Newham, just one of the 288 patients starting their treatment in 2017-18 was left waiting more than three weeks to begin.

In other parts of the country, waiting times differ significantly - in Shropshire 24pc of patients faced a three-week wait.

Alcohol misuse, which means drinking more than recommended limits, costs the NHS an estimated £3.5billion each year.

Doctors advise not drinking more than 14 units of alcohol a week, the equivalent of a bottle of wine and two cans of lager.

They say heavy drinking increases the risk of serious long-term health conditions, as well as causing social problems. It also piles pressure on the health service through hospital admissions.

Across England, 75,787 people used the services in 2017-18, down 15pc on 2014-15.

They include 10,530 people in London, where numbers dropped by 17pc over the same period.

A department of health and social care spokeswoman said: "We are determined to do more to support the most vulnerable.

"As part of the NHS long term plan, we are establishing specialist alcohol care teams in hospitals with the highest rates of alcohol harm, which will prevent 50,000 admissions over five years.

"Local authorities will also receive over £3bn in 2019-20 to be used exclusively on public health including alcohol treatment services."

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