Alcohol abuse among NHS patients ‘much bigger problem’ than first thought


One in five people admitted to hospital has a harmful drinking habit, and one in 10 is dependent on alcohol, research suggests.

Experts from King’s College London have said the issue is worse than first thought.

They found that harmful alcohol use is 10 times higher in hospital inpatients compared with the general UK population.

Meanwhile, alcohol dependency is eight times higher.

Alcohol dependency was most common among A&E patients but was also an issue in mental health units.

The report’s authors have called for universal screening in hospitals to help provide support to patients abusing alcohol, and said staff should receive specialist training in dealing with patients who are dependent on alcohol.

They examined data from 124 earlier studies involving more than 1.6 million people, in order to estimate the prevalence of heavy alcohol use among inpatients.

Their findings are published in the journal Addiction.

Alcohol-related conditions are estimated to cost the NHS around £3.5bn per year, the team said.