Liver disease stats show Milton Keynes could be a city of excess boozers

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More support for those struggling with alcohol is desperately needed, say experts.

There were more hospital admissions for liver disease in Milton Keynes last year, new figures show.

The charity Alcohol Change said tens of thousands of people are affected by alcohol-related harm every year. It added preventative measures and support for those struggling with alcohol is urgently needed.

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It comes as figures from the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities show hospital admissions for liver disease across England remain at a record high, with about 85,665 recorded in the year to March 2023 – up 51% from 10 years prior.

The NHS recommends no more than 14 units of alcohol should be drunk in a week. That's six medium glasses of wineThe NHS recommends no more than 14 units of alcohol should be drunk in a week. That's six medium glasses of wine
The NHS recommends no more than 14 units of alcohol should be drunk in a week. That's six medium glasses of wine

In Milton Keynes, there were some 295 hospital admissions for liver disease in 2022-23, up from 255 the year before.

It was also an increase from 185 hospital admissions in 2012-13.

All figures are rounded to the nearest five.

Excessive alcohol consumption is one of the main drivers of liver disease, but it can also be caused by other factors, including obesity, diabetes and hepatitis.

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Dr Richard Piper, chief executive of Alcohol Change UK, said: "Hospital admissions related to liver disease remain at an all-time high. We’re also seeing continuing problems right across our health system, from GPs to A&E, from liver wards to cancer wards to alcohol treatment services.

"The health harms caused by alcohol are affecting tens of thousands of people every year. The heartbreaking thing is that all of this suffering is totally avoidable."

Of the hospital admissions across England last year, 27,085 had a primary diagnosis of alcoholic liver disease. This included 85 in Milton Keynes.

Dr Piper added: "There is an urgent need to offer high-quality treatment and support for all those who are struggling with their alcohol consumption."

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He said preventative measures like minimum unit pricing and restrictions on alcohol marketing can stop people reaching the stage where they must attend hospital.

"We can have a society that keeps the fun but without the harm, and we need politicians to wake up to this," he added.

The OHID data also shows the mortality rate for liver disease has worsened.

Nationally, there were 31,221 deaths due to liver disease among under 75-year-olds across 2020-2022. It equated to a mortality rate of 21.1 per 100,000 people.

It is the highest rate since records began in 2001.

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In Milton Keynes, 123 deaths were linked to liver disease across 2020-22. It meant the area had a mortality rate of 17.6 per 100,000.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: "The Government is taking firm action on the causes of liver disease by ensuring people are given clear and accurate advice about the potential risks of alcohol and guidelines alcohol consumption.

"In addition, through our 10-year alcohol and drug strategy, supported by £532 million, we are helping up to 54,500 more people receive drug and alcohol support, and we are also funding specialist alcohol care teams at one in four hospitals in England."

The NHS recommends people should drink no more than 14 units of alcohol a week, spread across three days or more. That's around six medium (175ml) glasses of wine, or 6 pints of 4% beer.

"There's no completely safe level of drinking, but sticking within these guidelines lowers your risk of harming your health,” said a spokeperson.