HEALTH chiefs say there is a damaging “personal, social and financial cost” when it comes to alcohol misuse and warn excessive drinking can ruin lives.
The cost associated with alcohol misuse in Hartlepool – a staggering £40m each year – is equal to £459 per person, the second highest of the 12 local authorities in the North East.
Bosses at the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the University Hospital of Hartlepool and University Hospital of North Tees in Stockton, say they are concerned because excessive drinking can ruin people’s lives.
The Safer Hartlepool Partnership say booze is associated with a range of crime and anti-social behaviour but plays a “particular factor” in violent crime, with more than half of assault related A&E admissions being linked to alcohol.
Doctor Richard Thomas, consultant physician at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are sadly seeing younger and younger people with the type of liver disease normally associated with older people who have been drinking for years, and often the effects of this disease cannot be reversed.
“There is the financial cost, and that is significant, but there is also the personal and social cost to the individual and their family.
“We know people enjoy a drink but excessive drinking ruins lives; this is what we’re concerned about.”
Andy Simpson, clinical director for accident and emergency at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Excessive drinking affects not only the individual but people who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time who can find themselves a victim of an assault through no fault of their own.
“Being drunk can also make the drunk person themselves vulnerable to being attacked or assaulted.
“An enjoyable night out can turn into a tragedy and unfortunately we do sometimes see this in the department.”
Figures show booze-related violent crime remains at its highest in the Victoria and Headland & Harbour wards of Hartlepool and is predominantly linked to the night-time economy, where offences have increased by 13 per cent.
Health chiefs say alcohol consumption levels in the town remain above the national and regional average and despite a reduction the number of booze-related hospital admissions for adults and young people remain high.