ALCOHOL-RELATED hospital admissions have rocketed to record-breaking levels in Barnsley with more than 6,000 of the town’s residents requiring urgent treatment in just a year, the Chronicle can reveal.
According to new data from the government’s Office for Health Improvement and Disparities, Barnsley’s rates have dramatically increased.
A total of 6,080 residents required hospital treatment - the fourth year-on-year rise in a row - and 1,000 more people than figures from 2016/17.
The data takes into account Barnsley Hospital’s admissions where either the primary diagnosis or one of the secondary diagnoses is an alcohol-related condition, painting a picture of how impactful alcohol is on determining whether the patient has to actually be admitted into hospital.
UK Addiction Treatment Centres (UKAT) analysis shows that in 2019/20, 370 people were admitted for alcoholic liver disease, up 8 per cent on the previous year.
A staggering 1,474 people were admitted for mental and behavioural disorders due to alcohol in 2019/20, while 2,676 people were admitted for alcohol-related cardiovascular disease, up 12 per cent on the previous year.
The remaining admissions are for alcohol-related unintentional injuries and intentional self-poisoning from exposure to alcohol.
UKAT’s Nuno Albuquerque, which operates treatment centre Linwood House in Barnsley, said: “Barnsley Hospital was hit with more than 6,000 alcohol-related admissions in 2019/20, the highest on record and the highest annual rise across the whole of Yorkshire.
“The problem is worsening and is putting a lot of strain on the NHS.
“We’d hope that leaders in the town will now look at these figures and take real, effective action.
“We’re also calling on the government to reinstate ringfenced budgets for awareness, education and treatment of alcohol-related problems which will force the council into spending the money on these services.
“If they don’t, the problem with alcohol in Barnsley could become a much bigger beast to tame in the next couple of years than anyone could imagine.
“People here are seemingly struggling with their alcohol consumption, drinking so much that it is leading to hospitalisation and the diagnosis of further, debilitating conditions, yet the government continues to have their heads buried in the sand.
“It is a huge problem and one that needs immediately addressed as a matter of urgency.”
The youngest person seeking treatment was just 13, while 11 others were between the ages of 15 and 17, which will result in council bosses working closer with the hospital to reduce incidents.
Combined rates for under-18 admissions for boys and girls are now the second-highest in the Yorkshire and Humber region, but under-18 girls’ statistics are the highest.
A steering group has been established between council and hospital leaders, whose members now meet fortnightly, to provide early help to people admitted to hospital for alcohol misuse.
A council report said: “The public health team are working towards gaining a better understanding of the under-18 alcohol-specific admission data, exploring the context and circumstances behind admissions.
“Working with colleagues from Barnsley Hospital, a review of under-18 admission data has been completed and work is ongoing in this area.
“It is hoped that by working closely with the A and E department at the hospital, we can identify any emerging risk factors, patterns and alcohol sale trends to then be able to implement targeted effective intervention.”
Cabinet spokesperson for public health Coun Jim Andrews added: “Research has shown that levels of drinking increased in 2020 due to the well-documented stresses caused by the pandemic.
“If people do feel like they have a problem with alcohol, or are becoming alcohol dependent, help is available from Barnsley Recovery Steps, our commissioned support service.”