£15m cost to NHS of ‘baby boom boozers’

editorial image

Health bosses say tackling alcohol misuse is a top priority after it was revealed that over-drinking baby boomers are draining resources.

The first ever map of alcohol-related health costs by Alcohol Concern shows that the ‘baby boom’ generation of those born after the Second World War are the greatest burden on the health service compared to all other age groups in the county.

The cost of in-patient admissions linked to drinking for patients aged 55 to 74 totalled £15 million in 2010/11.

Figures taken from the Alcohol Harm Map show the inpatient cost of this age group is almost 19 times greater than those aged 16 to 24, a group often negatively associated with binge drinking.

NHS Hertfordshire spokesman Dot Lutkin said: “Younger people have more hazardous drinking patterns leading to acute injuries. Older people are more likely to have chronic conditions caused by long-term harmful drinking, spending more time in hospital, which costs the NHS more.”

The harm caused by alcohol is one of nine priorities for the county’s new Health and Wellbeing Strategy. Other issues include tackling obesity, reducing smoking, promoting good mental health and reducing the harm caused by drugs.

NHS Hertfordshire director of public health Jim McManussaid: “We are working with partners including Herts County Council to combat the increase in alcohol-related health problems. 

“This includes long term alcohol misuse as well as binge drinking among the younger population.

We are implementing a ‘Making Every Contact Count’ campaign which encourages clinicians to take every opportunity to talk to patients about leading healthy lives.

“This could include a practice nurse talking to a patient about alcohol consumption during a routine appointment or health workers in A&E departments and alcohol liaison nurses giving advice and signposting services that can support people with alcohol misuse problems.”