RECORD-BREAKING levels of alcohol-specific deaths have been recorded in Barnsley.

Office for National Statistics figures show there were 46 deaths in 2022 due to health conditions as a direct consequence of alcohol misuse, representing a year-on-year increase from 44 in 2021 and 36 in 2019.

Over the period, there were 17.8 deaths per 100,000 people in the town - above the national rate of 13.8 per 100,000.

Health leaders blame the stark findings on inaction owing to medical delays, with the pandemic being cited as a key reason for people’s habits changing.

Dr Richard Piper, chief executive of Alcohol Change UK, said: “Each one of those deaths is a tragedy, representing a person who has had their life cut short and has left behind people who are grieving and miss them every day.

“Years of inaction on alcohol harm has led to this and the heartbreaking thing is these deaths were totally avoidable.

“Our government has the responsibility and the power to put preventative measures in place, including proper regulation of alcohol marketing, clearer alcohol labelling and a minimum price for a unit of alcohol.”

The number of people admitted to Barnsley Hospital for liver disease has almost doubled in the last year, new figures have revealed.

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Figures show there were 435 hospital admissions for liver disease in 2022/23 - a telltale sign of alcoholism - which is up from 330 the year before.

Dr Piper added: “Hospital admissions related to liver disease remain at an all-time high.

“We’re also seeing continuing problems right across our health system, from GPs to A and E, from liver wards to cancer wards to alcohol treatment services.

“The health harms caused by alcohol are affecting many people every year.”

However, between 2012 and 2020 when the pandemic struck, deaths specifically attributed to alcohol were ‘stable’, the ONS said.

Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, chairman of the Alcohol Health Alliance UK, added: “We’re in the midst of a public health crisis and the lack of government action to prevent the lives lost and resulting devastation for families, friends and communities is a shameful failure in public policy.

“Despite what we are often told by the alcohol industry, the evidence shows it’s a complete myth that this is a problem for only a small minority.

“Alcohol is cheaper, more available and more heavily marketed today than ever before.

“As the death toll reaches record levels, so do the profits of the multi-billion pound drinks industry.”