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May 24, 2023
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New report into alcohol treatment

play video Clip of Alice Wiseman giving evidence to the Public Affairs Committee in March, 2023

Tackling alcohol harm

Actually it’s the product that’s harmful, rather than the individual who is the recipient.


Alcohol-related deaths have increased by 89% over the past two decades, but a report from the Public Accounts Committee published today  has found the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) is not taking alcohol harm sufficiently seriously.

Alice Wiseman, ADPH Lead for Addiction and DPH for Gateshead, who gave evidence to the Public Accounts Committee in March this year, said: “Every day around 80 people lose their life to alcohol related harm. It’s the leading risk factor for death, ill-health, and disability amongst 15–49-year-olds in England alone. It is also a driving factor for health inequalities, with the death rate from alcohol in the most deprived areas twice as high as in the least deprived.

“To tackle this head on, we need a whole population approach including action on price, promotion and availability. We need to focus on protecting children from alcohol related harm and exposure to marketing that encourages children to start drinking at an earlier age and engage in risky drinking practices.

“Alcohol treatment is important but it’s only a small part of what’s needed to address the harm caused. Not tackling alcohol is costing our country dearly with £8.3billion spent treating the consequences – imagine what we could invest this in if we prevented this harm in the first place.”

play video Alice Wiseman: "It isn't good enough."

Alcohol Health Alliance

As members of the Alcohol Health Alliance (AHA), we work together to promote evidence-based policies to reduce the harm caused by alcohol. Members of the AHA include medical royal colleges, charities, unions, treatment providers and other organisations that want to tackle alcohol harm.

Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, Chair of the AHA and Liver Specialist, also gave evidence to the Public Accounts Committee on alcohol treatment services in the community.

In response to the report’s findings, he said: “As the sharp increase of alcohol-related deaths, exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, shows no sign of slowing down, we welcome the findings and recommendations in the alcohol treatment services report published by the Public Accounts Committee today.

“The report recognises the scale of alcohol harm currently plaguing our nation and rightly highlights that more must be done by government departments to address this. With only one in five people with alcohol dependence currently receiving the treatment they need, urgent activity to improve access, quality and outcomes of treatment is essential. But more importantly, evidence-based prevention policies such as Minimum Unit Pricing that is already in place in Scotland and Wales, adequate alcohol duty and restrictions on marketing are also required to protect people from needing to access treatment in the first place.

“Overall, the report clearly demonstrates the need for the Government to produce a comprehensive alcohol strategy that clearly sets out what it will do to tackle this public health crisis, prevent avoidable deaths, and limit the ripple effect of alcohol harm across families and communities.”



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