A Mayoral Health Commission report published in 2014 estimated that the negative impact of alcohol runs to £228 million per year, or more than £500 for every man, woman and child in Liverpool.
Now partners including public health, the city council, the NHS and others are coming together to discuss what more can be done to tackle the issue. Speakers will include Dr Richard Piper, the recently appointed Chief Executive of national body, Alcohol Research UK.
One of the options that will be discussed is how Liverpool could influence the introduction of minimum unit pricing, which in Scotland is brought in this May. It will drive up the cost of super strength lager and cider, some of which is as cheap as £1 a litre at the moment.
In the last five years, Liverpool has seen a levelling off in the number of people admitted to hospital due to alcohol. However, the city still has the 8th highest hospital admission rate in the country and it is estimated that more than 115,700 adults in Liverpool drink more than they should do – with around 76,800 classed as binge drinkers.
Councillor Paul Brant, Cabinet member for adult health, said: “We have already had considerable success in Liverpool in tackling alcohol related issues. We have reduced the number of hospital admissions caused by drinking too much and carried out a lot of work with bars and clubs in the city centre to make sure they don’t serve people who are excessively drunk.
“However, every single day we still see the immense cost that alcohol has on our city, whether it’s people ending up in accident and emergency, health problems such as liver disease, people becoming drink dependent or the economic impact of absence from work.
“A single can of super-strength lager or cider can contain more than the daily recommended number of units allowed for a man and you can get extremely drunk using just the change in your pocket.
“This Summit is about looking at what we’ve achieved so far and how we can work together over the next few years to reduce the damage excessive alcohol consumption is doing.”
Dr Fiona Ogden-Forde, Clinical Lead for Alcohol at Liverpool CCG and Co-Chair of the multi-agency Liverpool Alcohol Strategy Group, said: “Since the launch of our current Alcohol Strategy in 2016 we have seen much progress in a number of areas such as increasing the number of health professionals who are able to offer brief advice to help people make adjustments to their alcohol consumption, and in the specialist support that has been provided to families where a parent or carer is an alcohol misuser.”
“However there is still much to be done. We will be using the Summit to assess how all the partners who contribute to the alcohol strategy can further work to eradicating the harms caused to society by cheap alcohol. One of the themes we will explore will be how as a city we can influence the end of pocket money priced alcohol.”
Dr Richard Piper, Chief Executive of Alcohol Research UK, which recently merged with Alcohol Concern, said: “The introduction of a minimum unit price is an important and effective step in addressing the harms caused by alcohol. Scotland and Wales are leading the way with the introduction of the measure later this year and there are signs that Northern Ireland will be pursuing it too.
“It’s vital that England steps up so that the people of Liverpool and elsewhere can be protected from the huge harms that the very cheapest, high strength products cause.
“There is clear evidence to show that as alcohol has become more affordable, instances of alcohol-related ill-health and death have risen. The fact is, something has to be done.”