Memorandum from the Department of Health
Alcohol is a traditional and enjoyable part
of everyday life. About 93 per cent of men and 86 per cent of
women (Health Education Authority, 1997) drink alcohol, and the
majority of these people drink moderately within the Government's
recommendations for sensible drinking (three to four units per
day for men and two to three for women) However some people misuse
alcohol, either by drinking too much in a single sessionbinge
drinkingor by longer term hazardous or problem drinking.
Misuse of alcohol can bring costs to the NHS.
The costs can result from the immediate effects of alcohol misuse,
with people who have had alcohol related accidents going to their
GP or Accident and Emergency Departments for treatment. Costs
can also arise from longer term alcohol misuse, as alcohol can
be a contributory factor in diseases such as coronary heart disease,
certain cancers and liver cirrhosis. Costs of this treatment can
fall on both primary and secondary care. It is hard to estimate
the costs of alcohol misuse, as it can be difficult to determine
the extent to which a patient's condition is attributable to alcohol
misuse as opposed to other factors.
The table below contains an estimate of the
costs to the NHS from alcohol misuse which arose in England and
Wales in 1999.
|Alcohol misuse-costs to the NHS
|Inpatient costsdirect alcohol diagnosis
|Inpatient costsother alcohol related diagnosis
Department of Health, Whitehall