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April 6, 2011

Hospitals in England Failing Underage Drinkers, Report Reveals

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

By cms admin

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.

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