(This item first appeared in the Brighton Argus on 7th October 2017)
Research from the Foundation for Liver Research has found that there has been a 17% increase in liver-related hospital admissions since 2010/11. Alcohol-related liver disease now accounts for 60% of all liver disease and 84% of liver-related deaths.
Over the next five years, according to the Foundation, there will be 63,000 deaths and 4.2 million hospital admissions, costing £17 billion, unless current tends are reversed.
The Foundation has called for the tougher regulation of alcohol marketing and advertising, and for off-licence hours to be restricted to 10am to 10pm
Introducing a minimum unit cost of 50p would save 3,393 lives a year and reduce the cost of alcohol-related problems by £9.7 billion.
David Cameron, when Prime Minister, initially said he would support a minimum unit cost for alcohol, only to do a U-turn when lobbied by the alcohol industry. Back in 2013 I wrote:
David Cameron was in favour of a minimum unit price but appears to have been persuaded by others to go silent on the matter. I am sure that, when presented with the case for a minimum unit price by someone like Dr Sarah Wollaston (a Conservative MP and former GP), he will see the moral, economic and health case, and act accordingly. Politicians often worry about their legacy. David Cameron has the opportunity to have a legacy that includes saving thousands of lives.
Cameron tragically wasn’t persuaded by Dr Wollaston. His U-turn and his failure to act when he had the chance and power to do so, has created a legacy. Iraq is Blair’s legacy; increasing alcohol-related deaths is one of Cameron’s.