Backing for a minimum price for alcohol
HEALTH bosses, politicians and police in Leicestershire are backing calls to put a minimum price on alcohol sold in England.
The officials have signed a letter urging the Government to introduce minimum unit pricing.
Members of Leicester City Council’s health and wellbeing board, who signed the letter at a meeting, hope that introducing the charge will mean fewer alcohol-related deaths and hospital admissions in the city.
Deputy city mayor Councillor Adam Clarke, who chairs the board, has written to Home Secretary Sajid Javid to ask him to take the step.
Coun Clarke said: “Targeting those consuming harmful amounts of alcohol is key, as currently about 4 per cent of the population are drinking just under a third of all the alcohol consumed in the country.
“A minimum unit price of 50p per unit would reduce alcohol consumption among some of the most vulnerable, without having a significant impact on moderate drinkers.”
Public Health England has estimated that over 20 years, a 50p minimum unit price per unit of alcohol could reduce healthcare costs by £1.3 billion. University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, Leicestershire Partnership Trust, Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service, East Midlands Ambulance Service, NHS Leicester Clinical Commissioning Group, Leicestershire Police and leading city doctors have all signed the letter and pledged their support.
Lord (Willy) Bach, police and crime commissioner for Leicestershire, has also signed the letter.
He said: “I wholeheartedly support this move and will most definitely add my name to the letter to the Home Secretary.
“I have been working with the city council and other partners to address the problems caused by alcohol misuse and feel that this would be another tool in the box.”
Allister Grant, a liver specialist and consultant at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, said: “Alcohol liver disease-related death is one of the biggest causes of death in our community for patients in their 40s and 50s.
“Damage to the liver starts with excessive drinking of alcohol many years before the development of cirrhosis and liver failure.
“Our binge drinking culture in the UK and the practice of pre-loading with cheap alcohol before you go out for an evening undoubtedly makes the situation worse.
“Minimum unit pricing is an important tool in curbing alcohol consumption and is one of many ways that we can reduce the harm done by alcohol.”