Minimum Price Would Lead To 'Fewer Hospital Admissions'
6 February 2013, 06:00
Capital's been told setting a 50p minimum price for a unit of alcohol would cut hospital admissions in Greater Manchester by almost five thousand in its first year.
Health authorities believe overall drinking levels would fall and therefore fewer people would develop drink-related health problems.
They estimate that the NHS in Greater Manchester could save as much as £9 million a year.
All 24 Directors of Public Health in the North West are calling for the 50p minimum price to be introduced nationally, just as a government consultation on alcohol comes to an end.
The 50p proposal would mean four cans of lager would cost at least £4.40, while a 2 litre bottle of normal strength cider would be £4.77 or more.
Along with the idea of setting a minimum price for a unit, authorities in the North West also want to see an end to multi-buy offers, which they say encourage people to buy more drink than they need.
There are even some people who want a total ban on the sale of super-strength lagers and ciders, which usually have an alcoholic content of around 9%.
Dave Lancaster, who's Salford's Deputy Mayor, wants them to be taken off the shelves, just as figures reveal the city to have the third highest rate of liver and kidney problems in the whole country.
"Why do we need to drink beer of 9%? Isn't 4% adequate? The sole purpose of drinking drinks like that is to get people drunk faster - and the consequences that has on people's health."
Dave isn't the only person in Greater Manchester worried about the availability of cheap alcohol.
Nick Buckley has worked with young people in Manchester for the last decade, including a role aimed at cutting anti-social behaviour in the city centre.
He told Capital he's had to phone an ambulance on eight different occasions because of young people, mainly girls, becoming ill through binge drinking in Cathedral Gardens.
"We found one or two on the grass, who wouldn't wake up. Others would come up to us and say my friend's ill and we'd go over and there'd be an empty bottle of vodka next to her.
"Some of these girls are putting themselves into some significant danger. The city centre isn't a youth club.
"There are some individuals walking around the city centre who shouldn't be and to see a 15-year-old girl in a short dress unconscious on a grass verge is quite a dangerous position to put yourself into."
But Nick doesn't think that raising the price of alcohol will stop these kind of things from happening.
"Its one tool that might stop one or two young people being able to buy alcohol, but a lot of young people have a lot of disposable income - it might mean nothing to them whatsoever."