New blueprint to tackle Hull's binge-drinking problem
A three-year strategy is being drawn up to deal with alcohol-related problems in Hull. Angus Young reports ...
A RAFT of measures aimed at tackling alcohol-related problems in Hull in recent years could be paying off.
New research suggests binge-drinking levels in the city have declined since 2007.
Alcohol-related hospital admissions rates in Hull are also falling for the first time in three years.
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But experts say the city still has significantly higher levels of excessive drinking than the national average.
And Hull is only second to Doncaster across the whole of Yorkshire for the number of men who die every year from chronic liver diseases linked to drinking.
The figures are contained in a draft version of a new policy blueprint outlining what steps will be taken over the next three years to deal with health, crime and social problems fuelled by alcohol in Hull.
Perhaps the most sobering statistic is contained in a single line tucked away on page 14.
It simply says: "During 2010, there were 37 alcohol-related deaths in Hull."
Yesterday, the draft report went before the city council's health and social wellbeing scrutiny commission, presented by Peter Dawson, public health manager for NHS Hull.
He said: "Some of the recent trends we are seeing are encouraging but we do have still some way to go for Hull to be in a good place on alcohol misuse.
"One thing that does emerge from the recent work we have done is that we are now looking at a much younger age group when it comes to treating people with serious alcohol-related health problems.
"Traditionally, it has been the 40 to 50-year-old age group but it's becoming clearer that the majority of people coming into hospital now are in their 30s and under."
Being jointly drawn up by NHS and Hull City Council, the city's new alcohol strategy for the period between 2013 and 2016 will be the third of its kind.
Like its immediate predecessor, it focuses on four major issues surrounding alcohol misuse in Hull – binge drinking, alcohol-fuelled crime, drink-related hospital admissions and the need for early identification, referral and access to a range of health services geared towards helping people with drink problems.
Mr Dawson said it was too early to say whether current strategies, ranging from school-based education programmes to drink banning orders in certain areas of the city, were delivering results.
But he pointed to early findings from the city's largest public health survey to date – carried out last year – as evidence of improving trends, particularly on binge drinking.
They show overall levels of men and women classed as regular binge drinkers in Hull have reduced since the last similar survey in 2007.
In additional, the number of so-called occasional binge drinkers has also fallen.
They survey quizzed 14,500 people across the city on a range of health and lifestyle issues.
Mr Dawson said overall levels of binge-drinking in Hull were still "significantly worse" when compared with England as a whole.
Overall, one in every five adults in Hull is classed as a binge drinker who typically consumes the equivalent of three of pints of beer every day.
For the first time, the draft blueprint also identifies the percentage of people who drink excessively and who also binge drink on a ward-by-ward basis.
For men, the three wards with the highest percentages were Derringham, Southcoates West and Avenue. For women, Bricknell, Newland and Pickering topped the table.
Vicky Harris, the city council's head of substance misuse, said the figures showed where people in specific areas of the city consumed more alcohol on average on a daily basis.
She said: "To have this level of detail down to ward level will enable a more targeted approach when we use promotional messages on the associated dangers of drinking to excess.
"It also provides information to help prioritise certain areas for support services."
Whether the full ward-by-ward breakdown will be included in the final version of the published strategy remains to be seen.
Yesterday some councillors said drawing conclusions from comparisons between different wards would be risky.
Councillor John Abbott said: "Simply putting a figure next to the name of ward doesn't really tell you anything meaningful."