Edinburgh Evening News

Mystery of drop in hospitalis­ations as drink deaths rise


The reasons behind a drop in Scotland’s alcohol-related hospital admissions “remain unclear”, according to experts, especially against a backdrop of spiralling drink deaths.

Alcohol-related hospital admissions in Scotland fell by 11 per cent in 2022-23 compared with the previous year, figures show, but over the last three years alcohol deaths have increased by 25 per cent.

“On the face of it, this fall in alcohol-related hospital admissions, continuing the downward trend of recent years, looks like good news,” said Dr Alastair MacGilchri­st, chair of Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems. “However, the reasons behind this fall – at a time when deaths from alcohol have been rising – are unclear.”

One possible factor, according to Dr MacGilchri­st, is that liver disease, which accounts for the vast majority of alcohol deaths, only makes up a small amount of hospital admissions.

“The majority of these hospital admissions are for acute problems such as alcohol poisoning or alcohol withdrawal syndrome,” he said.

“Most of the reduction in admissions is for those acute alcohol conditions – with only a slight reduction in liver disease admissions.”

Public Health Scotland data shows there were 31,206 hospitalis­ations due to alcohol last year, with 92 per cent of such admissions treated in general acute hospitals and the remaining 8 per cent in psychiatri­c hospitals.

But figures from 2021-22 showed there were 35,187 admissions in Scotland, with 94 per cent being general hospital stays and 6 per cent psychiatri­c. The latest figures showed the 2022-23 statistics were the equivalent of 577 per 100,000 of the population, compared with 652 per 100,000 in 2021-22.

And in the most recent year, men were 2.4 times more likely than women to be admitted to general acute hospitals for alcohol-related conditions than women.

This worked out at 749 stays compared with 315 per 100,000 of the population.

Those in the most deprived areas of Scotland were also seven times more likely to be admitted to general hospitals for alcohol-related conditions compared with their more affluent counterpar­ts – 849 patients compared with 127 per 100,000.

A Scottish Government spokespers­on said: “We want to make sure people have access to support when and where they need it – which is why last year, we provided a record £112m of funding to Alcohol and Drug Partnershi­ps. This funding has helped support pilots of new and innovative approaches to alcohol treatment such as the Managed Alcohol Programme pilot in Glasgow.

“Research commended by internatio­nally renowned public health experts estimates that our world-leading minimum unit pricing policy has saved hundreds of lives, likely averted hundreds of alcohol-attributab­le hospital admissions and contribute­d to reducing health inequaliti­es.”

Alison Douglas, chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, noted that alcohol specific deaths in

Scotland were up 25 per cent over the last three years, “even with the protective effect of minimum unit pricing”.

 ?? ?? Public Health Scotland data showed there were 31,206 hospitalis­ations last year due to alcohol, down 11 per cent from 2021-22, but deaths from alcohol have been rising
Public Health Scotland data showed there were 31,206 hospitalis­ations last year due to alcohol, down 11 per cent from 2021-22, but deaths from alcohol have been rising
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