New bid to tackle Hartlepool's alcohol issues after rise in consumption during Covid

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Council chiefs have outlined plans to tackle health issues linked to alcohol in Hartlepool after an increase in its consumption during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Hartlepool Borough Council officers stressed addressing alcohol issues will be a “key focus” for the public health team moving forward,

They will also work with the licensing department to look at its availability in the area.

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The town has a “quite low” number of people who use treatment facilities for alcohol while its figures for hospital admissions related to the substance have been “consistently significantly worse” than the England rate.

Hartlepool Director of Public Health Craig Blundred.Hartlepool Director of Public Health Craig Blundred.
Hartlepool Director of Public Health Craig Blundred.

Plans to tackle the issue were discussed at the latest meeting of Hartlepool’s health and wellbeing board following a report on a substance misuse needs and assessment drawn up for the area.

Director of public health Craig Blundred said: “We have seen an increase in alcohol use since Covid-19, so it’s going to very much be a key focus of the strategy going forward.

“We’re also looking at the prevention work to the various different strands we can do as well as the treatment, because we are aware from the data that the numbers of people entering treatment is quite low in Hartlepool.

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“We also mentioned the wider system, so working with our licensing colleagues to look at availability which I think is crucial to tackling that. So it will be part and parcel of the whole approach and strategy.”

His response came after Denise McGuckin, the council’s managing director, had noted the updated plans are timely, three years on from the first Covid-19 lockdown which saw many increase their alcohol intake.

The drug and alcohol needs assessment states “alcohol related hospital admissions have been consistently significantly worse than the England rate” in the borough through the 13 year reporting period covered.

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Hartlepool had seen a recent increase up to a high of 1,171 per 100,000 population in 2019-20 for the admissions, which made it 10th highest in the country at the time and followed two previous years of rises.

However this has been followed by a “steep decline” down to 887 per 100,000 in 2020-21 although this still remains worse than the national average.