The rate of hospital admissions for underage drinkers with serious conditions caused by alcohol abuse in South Tyneside is more than three times the national average, worrying new data shows.
Charities say these figures, provided by Public Health England, are “alarming” and warn that young people are increasingly becoming binge drinkers.
In South Tyneside, 94 children were taken to hospital with illnesses directly linked to excessive drinking, between April 2015 and March 2018.
That’s a rate of 106 admissions per every 100,000 children, compared with an average of 33 per 100,000 in England. The figures are measured over a three-year period due to low numbers.
The data only includes patients suffering conditions which are entirely attributable to alcohol abuse, such as liver cirrhosis.
A spokesman for South Tyneside Council said: “Alcohol continues to be a major public health challenge in South Tyneside with high rates of cancer and other alcohol-related illnesses as well as admissions to hospital as a result of alcohol.
“For this reason, our latest alcohol strategy aims to reduce the harm caused by alcohol abuse and promotes the Chief Medical Officer’s guidance to encourage under 18s to avoid alcohol completely. As part of our approach, BALANCE, the regional alcohol office on behalf of the Local Authority has launched a campaign to target parents to educate and support them to delay their children’s consumption of alcohol for as long as possible.
“We want to empower our communities to value and desire good health. This involves challenging the wider acceptance around the consumption of alcohol and creating a culture and environment that is not centred around it. In particular, we want to create an alcohol-free childhood that helps to protect our future generations.”
Dr John Larsen, director of evidence and impact for alcohol education charity Drinkaware, said: “The more alcohol people drink, the greater their risk of developing a serious conditions, such as high blood pressure and heart disease, as well as seven types of cancer.
“Men and women should not drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis.”
Including adults, there were 1,622 hospital admissions in South Tyneside for conditions caused by alcohol abuse between April 2017 and March 2018.
That is 22% higher than five years earlier.
Vanessa Hebditch, director of policy at the British Liver Trust, said the Government should rise taxes on alcoholic drinks or set a minimum unit price.
She said: “These statistics are alarming. Filling up your supermarket trolley with wine and drinking at home has become increasingly acceptable and affordable.
“The Government should address this by creating a minimum unit price or introducing stronger controls on the advertising so consumers can make an informed choice.”
Scotland introduced a minimum unit price of 50p in May 2017, while the Welsh Government is planning to implement the same measure next summer.
Across England, 304,073 people were taken to hospital for illnesses caused by alcohol abuse. That’s 3% higher than five years earlier.
The Government estimates alcohol misuse costs the NHS about £3.5billion each year.