Concern over number of drink-related deaths

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Alcohol related deaths are falling across the North East, but the region continues to have some of England’s highest mortality rates.

Figures published by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) revealed that the North East has the second highest rate of alcohol related deaths for both males and females in England.

Sue Taylor, Partnerships Manager at Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, said: “Although we welcome the fact that rates here in the North East fell faster than the England average in the last year, we continue to have one of the biggest problems with alcohol in England.

“There’s been an astonishing leap in alcohol related deaths over the last two decades and it’s particularly alarming that our rate of alcohol related female deaths is a third higher than the England average. We must do more.

“People are dying because alcohol is far too cheap, it’s available on nearly every street corner at all hours of the day and night and it’s far too heavily promoted.

“The ONS statistics are further evidence that a minimum unit price for alcohol is necessary. The Government’s introduction of a ban on sales of alcohol at below cost will fail to have the desired impact.

“Independent research from the University of Sheffield shows that the new policy will prevent 15 alcohol related deaths, reduce hospital admissions by 500 and see 900 fewer alcohol related crimes a year.

“A minimum unit price of 45p, which had initially been proposed by the Government, would be up to 50 times more impactful.

“We know that the more affordable alcohol is, the more people consume. A minimum unit price of at least 50p will make cheap, strong alcohol less affordable to the vulnerable, younger and heavier drinkers who are more likely to drink it and suffer the consequences. It will have no effect on the price of a pint in a community pub.”

The latest figures from the ONS show that the North East has the second highest rate of alcohol related deaths in men in England at 17.6 deaths per 100,000, compared to an England average rate of 14.7 per 100,000. This means that the North East rate is 20% higher than the national male rate.

However, the number of male deaths has decreased 19% from a peak of 314 deaths in 2010 to 255 in 2012. In England there was a 5% decrease in numbers over the same period.

The number of alcohol related male deaths has, however, increased 130% in the North East and 118% in England since 1991.

The North East also has the second highest rate of alcohol related deaths in women in England at 9.8 deaths per 100,000 compared to an England average of 7.3 deaths. This means the North East rate is 34% higher than the national rate.

The number of female deaths in the North East increased marginally from 155 in 2010 to 158 in 2011. However, 2012 has seen a 5% decline since the previous year back down to a total of 150 deaths. England has also seen a small decrease in numbers of female deaths from 2,272 in 2011 to 2,263 in 2012.

The number of alcohol related female deaths has increased 154% in the North East and 86% in England since 1991.

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