NHS Hospitals in England are failing underage drinkers by not giving them enough support to tackle their problems, according to a report by charity Alcohol Concern.
Every year, an estimated 64,750 children, some as young as 11, visit hospitals due to drinking problems, of whom 36 a day are admitted for treatment, at a cost of £19m to the NHS.
Responses from 128 accident & emergency (A&E) units revealed that many offer little or no specialist support to teenagers who have come to harm due to alcohol misuse.
While 52% of hospitals can refer young people to a specialist substance misuse service for under-18s, the remainder cannot.
Almost three-quarters (73%) of NHS hospitals do not have an established alcohol-harm reduction strategy, while 76% do not have a specialist to tackle underage drinking.
In addition, only eight emergency departments were found to offer some interventions to patients aged under 16 years.
A Department of Health spokeswoman told The Guardian that alcohol misuse is a major public health issue that teenagers can be especially vulnerable.
“We welcome this report that suggests how local A&E services might address acute harms arising from teenage alcohol misuse,” she said.