Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Alcohol-related hospital admission rates....what are we going to do about it?

The Department of Health has published data for 2006/07, using a new methodology, that says hospital admissions attributable to alcohol were over 800,000 in 2006. It's all on the North West Public Health Observatory website. There's also a load of information about how that figure was calculated, which is super.

What we need though, dare I say, is a few thoughts on how we actually reduce alcohol-related hospital admissions, especially since:
"The most common reasons for hospital admission in males and females were hypertensive diseases, mental and behavioural disorders due to use of alcohol, and cardiac arrhythmias.

Mental and behavioural disorders due to use of alcohol, which included admissions for a wide variety of disorders relating to alcohol use, were the leading cause of alcohol-related admissions in males under the age of 55."
Mental and behavioural disorders is one thing, we are familiar with those. Hypertension is the realm of public health, GPs etc. And they don't really do alcohol, do they?

So, rather than bothering the NHS, the government is going to reduce admission rates by getting the alcohol industry to play nicely. Hmm...

Monday, August 13, 2007

Daily Dose Ate My Hamster

A fellow drug/alcohol blogger has alerted me to the fact that Daily Dose is no longer linking to blogs. Yes the drug/alcohol blogosphere, the drugalcosphere, the dralcosphere, is all abuzz with this devastating news. Daily Dose, the world's greatest abstracting service on substance misuse, does not find bloggers a worthy source of news.

You know what? I so don't care. Their alcohol coverage is crap - every time I look it is all mainstream stuff from the BBC or stuff from Australia. Google Reader is a better source of information. Alcohol Policy UK would easily be a better source of what was happening if it was less sporadic. Come to that, my teenage sons are a better source.

And apart from BBC and Australian stories, it's mostly drugs news. Binge Britain (a nasty, worthless, alcohol blog) offers a stunning prize to the first reader who can show me a week of 'Doses' that has more UK alcohol news coverage than drugs.

Get over it people.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

plus ca change....

so I leave the country for a few months and return to find an updated alcohol strategy for England (where did that come from? must be the only commitment in AHRSE that was delivered in spades and on time), and a new team in charge (not entirely unexpected).

still no sign of the Trailblazer pilots starting though. wonder what odds Ladbrokes would give on the research findings being delivered to the latest revised schedule set in Safe Social Sensible?

whose title sounds more like a condom strategy, it must be said.

the government's new alcohol team:

Dawn Primarolo (ex Treasury) replaces Caroline Flint as Public Health minister. According to Dept of Health:
"in this role, she has responsibility for health improvement and health protection issues including such areas as tobacco, obesity, drugs and sexual health"

why mention specifically drugs here and not alcohol, when this government has never really seen drug misuse as a public health issue, and alcohol is a Choosing Health priority where drugs is not? although, it's consistent with Dept of Health's recent consultation on health and well-being outcomes that managed somehow to exclude alcohol (and include drugs).

ho hum..perhaps the Dept of Health has finally bowed to the inevitable and given the lead to the Home Office. Because here we find a new team for alcohol, but it's complicated...
the Crime Reduction and Community Safety Group has within it the Crime and Drug Strategy Directorate, which contains a unit nearly all to ourselves! Yes, the Anti-social Behaviour and Alcohol Unit, lead by one Ziggy MacDonald. Vernon Coaker remains the politician in charge.

"The Anti-Social Behaviour and Alcohol Unit is responsible for developing Home Office policy on anti-social behaviour and the misuse of alcohol within England and Wales.

We take forward the government's target to reduce the perception of anti-social behaviour, which is measured by the British Crime Survey.

The Alcohol Strategy is jointly owned by the Home Office and the Department of Health. Our work on alcohol also contributes to related targets on violent crime and criminal damage. This involves working closely with front-line practitioners and other government departments.

The unit also links with the Respect Taskforce in the Department for Children, Schools and Families."

The italics are mine. I don't know any fellow front-line practitioners who have been worked closely with by this Unit; do you dear reader? Ziggy, feel free to get in touch.

Gordon Brown's record on alcohol taxation

Will Gordy indulge his alleged puritanical tendencies and clamp down on alcohol misuse now he's in charge? He doesn't seem too keen on alcohol taxation - especially for spirits, cider and sparkling wine. The extracts below are from Gordon Brown's Budget speeches all those years he was Chancellor.

Meanwhile, a new factsheet from the Institute of Alcohol Studies "Alcohol: Price, legal availability and expenditure" shows that alcohol was 54% more affordable in 2003 than 1980.

1998: From January 1 next year, alcohol duties will be uprated in the normal way, by 1p on a pint of beer and 4p on a bottle of wine. For a bottle of spirits the duty will be frozen at its current level.

1999: I have decided to freeze the duty on spirits, on beer and on wine at its current level. There will be no tax rise on alcohol this side of the millennium.

2000: This year an inflation rise would push the price of whisky up by 22 pence a bottle. Because of the competitive position of the industry I will this year continue to freeze duty on all spirits. Beer will rise only by inflation - by 1 pence a pint- and wine only by inflation, by 4 pence a bottle.

2001: This year an inflation rise would push the price of whisky up by 11 pence a bottle. Because of the competitive position of the industry I will this year continue to freeze duty on whisky and on all spirits. And this year I propose to go further and freeze duty on wine and on beer.

2002: To budget effectively for our long term spending plans including our major commitments to the NHS, I have also to make major decisions about other taxes. I have to make this year's decision on duties on beer, spirits and wine - I have decided to freeze them.

2003: I propose, from Monday, the annual inflation rise of 1 pence on a pint of beer, 4 pence on a bottle of wine. I will freeze duties on cider and sparkling wine.

Because past governments set higher taxes on the alcohol content of spirits than on beer and wine, I will for the sixth Budget in a row, freeze all spirits duties, the longest freeze for 50 years, benefiting whisky producers in all parts of the United Kingdom.

2004: From next Monday I will implement the normal annual inflation rise of 1p on a pint of beer, 4p on a bottle of wine. But I will freeze duties on cider and sparkling wine.

2005: I will implement from midnight on Sunday the normal annual inflation rise of 1p on a pint of beer, 4p on a bottle of wine but I will freeze duty on spirits, cider and sparkling wine.

2006: I will freeze duty on whiskey and all spirits for the ninth successive year, the longest period without an increase for half a century. I will implement, from midnight on Sunday, only the normal annual inflation rise of 4 pence on wine, 1 pence on a pint of beer. In anticipation of world cup success this summer, I am freezing duty on champagne … and on British sparkling wine. I will also freeze duty on cider.

2007: I propose only the normal indexation of alcohol duties. From midnight on Sunday, beer will rise by 1p a pint, cider by 1p a litre, wine by 5p a bottle and sparkling wine by 7p. But for the tenth Budget in a row I will freeze duty on spirits.

Friday, July 27, 2007

who is stella, what is she?

i'm back folks. stand by for blasting.