William Eichler 11 February 2019

Treatment cut despite ‘soaring’ alcohol-related A&E admissions

Local authorities are reducing spending on alcohol and drug treatment services despite ‘soaring’ numbers of hospital admissions due to alcohol misuse, FOI data reveals.

According to Freedom of Information data compiled by Liam Byrne MP, last year saw 39,000 more admissions due to alcohol than in 2009. This represented a 13% increase.

Despite this rise in alcohol-related admissions, 58% of councils report cutting budgets for drug and alcohol treatment services over the last year and 68% reported no budget increase.

Around 16 councils implemented a £500,000 cut last year to these services and four reported cuts of over £1.5m.

While the average reduction was £155,000, the largest absolute cut was made by Birmingham City Council (£3,846,000). The largest proportional cut came in Islington – 34% of its budget or £2,431,800.

Nearly 40 (38) local authorities report alcohol related hospital admissions are going up in their area while their funding has been cut.

Mr Byrne, who is the chair of the cross-party parliamentary group for children of alcoholics, warned that the cuts will continue next year.

Local authorities project a further average 2% cut in drug and alcohol treatment services.

The average budget cut is set to be over £75,000, with 93% of councils reporting that addiction treatment budgets will stand still or fall next year.

Over two thirds (67%) of councils now say they have some kind of strategy in place to support children of alcoholics — up from under 50% last year and under 25% in 2015.

‘Every child of an alcoholic comes to learn the brutal hard way that we can’t change things for our parents – but we can change things for our children,’ said Mr Byrne.

‘But frankly that’s harder if addiction treatment budgets are being cut left, right and centre. What this year’s data shows is that it’s simply a false economy.

‘We’re spending money dealing with A&E admissions when we should be trying to tackle the addiction that lands people in hospital in the first place.’

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