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City's binge drinking 'worst in South East'
OXFORD has the worst binge drinking problem in the South East region, it has been revealed.
That’s according to one of two new reports on excessive alcohol use, showing that millions are spent on dealing with the problem across the county.
Every year Liverpool John Moores University’s centre for public health produces the Local Alcohol Profiles for England report into the nation’s drinking problems.
The latest shows that of 67 local authority areas in the South East, Oxford has the most people drinking excessively, with 26 people per 1,000 of the population admitting to it.
The average for the region is 18.1 per 1,000. Kate King, health improvement principal for NHS Oxfordshire, believes Oxford’s mix of areas of deprivation, affluence and the student population have all contributed to alcohol-related admissions.
She said: “The problem is the public are not ready to hear the message about alcohol yet. “Central Government isn’t really offering us anything meaty to work with.
“But we still intend to carry on doing what we are doing to tackle it.” The profiles also revealed that in Oxford men were shortening their lives by 10 months on average by drinking too much and women by five months.
But it’s not just students putting a drain on Oxfordshire’s health services. A further report from Alcohol Concern shows that more is spent on alcohol related inpatient admissions for 55- to 74-year-olds than any other age group.
This group cost NHS Oxfordshire £7.7m in alcohol-related hospital admissions, compared to £700,000 for 16- to 24-year-olds and £4.9m for 25- to 54-year-olds. For the South East, these average £6.3m for 55- to 74-year-olds, £900,000 for 16- to 24-year-olds, and £3.7m for the 25 to 54 age group. Alcohol Concern chief executive Eric Appleby said: “It is the common perception that young people are responsible for the increasing cost of alcohol misuse, but our findings show that in reality this is not the case.
It is the middle-aged, and often middle-class drinker, regularly drinking above recommended limits, who are actually requiring complex and expensive NHS care.”
‘Binge drinking’ is classed as drinking more than eight units of alcohol for men – or about three pints of strong beer – in one session.
For women, it’s drinking more than six units of alcohol, equivalent to two large glasses of wine. Total alcohol-related admissions in Oxfordshire cost £30.2m last year.
Dr Jane Collier, consultant hepatologist at the John Radcliffe Hospital, said: “Wine is much stronger than it used to be. It used to be around nine per cent.
“Now the average bottle of wine is about 12 or 13 per cent, and can have up to 10 units in it.”