The shocking extent of England’s binge-drinking culture

In honour of the Pogues, and from today’s Guardian Observer:

Previously unpublished NHS data obtained by The Observer reveals that the number of people who had to be taken to hospital over the past five years has risen sharply in every region of the country.

The number of men admitted nationwide has risen from 714 per 100,000 in 2001-02 to 909 per 100,000 in 2005-06, a rise of 27.3 per cent, while, over the same period, the number of women has gone up from 396 per 100,000 to 510 per 100,000, a jump of 28.9 per cent.

The north-east has the worst problems. It had the highest number of admissions per 100,000 population for both men and women, with 1,232 per 100,000 for men and 689 per 100,000 for women. That equates to about 15,700 men and 8,800 women.

The north-west was close behind, with 1,215 admissions per 100,000 men and 674 per 100,000 among women (about 41,600 men and 23,100 women).

So much for the new licensing laws – who would have thought a system could possibly turn out worse than punters bingeing before time was called, only to hit the streets absolutely drenched in the stuff? Well, me, actually – and many other people at the time. Brits aren’t alcoholics, don’t get me wrong. The Brits who are, the ones who seriously drink, well, seriously drink.

I wonder if any statistics are being gathered on the amount of rubbish being left lying around from drunken wanders eating half their pizza or kebabs before dropping it all or just tossing it aside (York on a Saturday night was not pleasant. Although the sight of half-naked Northern Lasses in the freezing cold was always entertaining).

This also is doing little for the North-South divide in England.

The figures reveal that a north-south divide is emerging in England’s drinking culture. Nine of the 10 areas with the highest rates of emergency admissions are in the north, with Liverpool, Manchester and Middlesbrough in the top five for both men and women.

Most of the regions with the fewest emergency admissions are in the south, including Wokingham in Berkshire and Lewisham in south London.

Which is not at all surprising. Heavy drinking has always been thus – it stands to reason that any worsening of it would follow a similar pattern.

I look forward to the figures from the HES data being released properly on Tuesday. I look forward to some cost estimates for hospitals, too (binge drinking costs the NHS a hell of a lot of money).

While we’re on the NHS, here’s another book that is well worth your time:

Blood, Sweat and Tea: Real Life Adventures in an Inner-city Ambulance


Have you ever wondered what’s going on inside that ambulance you see screaming past with its sirens on and blue lights flashing? Does it contain a heart attack victim fighting for their life, while trained medical professionals administer emergency treatment? Or have you considered that it might be yet another ‘maternataxi’ ordered by a woman who can’t be bothered to book a real cab and who then complains she can’t smoke on the way to hospital?

Meet Tom Reynolds. Tom is an Emergency Medical Technician who works for the London Ambulance Service in East London. He has kept a diary of his daily working life since 2003, first as a website called ‘Random Acts of Reality’ and now for the first time as a no-punches-pulled book. His award-winning writing is, by turn, moving, cynical, funny, heart-rending and compassionate. From the tragic to the hilarious, from the heartwarming to the terrifying, the stories Tom tells give a fascinating – and at times alarming – picture of life in inner-city Britain, and the people who are paid to mop up after it.

Picture from Wikipedia.

Tom Reynolds’ blog is called Random Acts of Reality (trying to kill as few people as possible). Basically it’s the life and times of a London NHS Ambulance driver, and it is pretty fascinating. The book is excellent.


1 comment so far

  1. Anonymous on

    me and my girlfriend were asked to leave our local cinema last night because we took our own soft drinks in to save money, and i am more than angry because after speaking to the manager he basically said that they will happily sell us over priced drinks including alcohol but we cant take our own drinks in, i had forgotten that the last time we visited this cinema they came around with a drinks trolley asking if we wanted wine or beer, which angered me because i am fed up of living in a bloody country that is dependant on beer no matter were they go, this cinema is encouraging drink driving how many people travel to the cinema on the bus plus they advertise dedicated parking. do the police sit outside cinemas to catch drink drivers no they sit outside pubs etc, the last thing i want is to be sat watching a film with my girlfriend with a load of boozed up larger louts. beer should be left in the pubs, what will we need next police outside cinemas to stop anti social behaviour! my poor mum was killed by the nhs 3 years ago due to lack off funding/equipment because the poor nhs spends over 2 billion a year on drunks. yours angryly paul bosman.

    the goverment needs to put a fixed penalty in place to make everyone who ends up in hospital due to bloody booze pay for there treatment so that people like my poor mum dont die because the nhs cant afford vital equipment! please look on the manhester evening news sight and type in “14 hour trip by taxi” you will see my mums story, I will be contacting my mp today to bring up my issues. thank you paul bosman.

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