Heavy drinking during the pandemic could add £5.2 billion to our NHS tab and lead to 25,000 deaths

Scientists have claimed drinking habits during the pandemic could lead to more than 25,000 deaths and cost the NHS £5.2 billion.

A study commissioned by NHS England from the University of Sheffield found that during the pandemic, heavy drinkers drink more – and may never return to previous levels.

Experts found that people over 45 who drank at a risk level before the pandemic were more likely to increase their drinking when Covid-19 hit.

In the best-case scenario – when all drinkers return to their 2019 drinking levels this year – there will still be 42,677 more hospital admissions and 1,830 deaths over 20 years, the researchers say. due to alcohol.

In a worst-case scenario, this rose to 972,382 additional hospitalizations and 25,192 deaths, costing the NHS £5.2 billion. It is very likely that in the next 20 years, 207,597 more people will be hospitalized and 7,153 people will die, causing a loss of 1.1 billion pounds.

The team said ‘heavier drinkers and those in the most deprived areas’, who have suffered the most alcohol-related harms, will be hardest hit.

Many heavy drinkers have not returned to their pre-pandemic lower habits (file image)

Many heavy drinkers have not returned to their pre-pandemic lower habits (file image)

Many heavy drinkers have not returned to their pre-pandemic lower habits (file image)

People classified as ‘increasing risk drinkers’ consume more than 14 units per week – according to UK guidelines – but no more than 35 units per week for women and 50 taste for men. Meanwhile, high-risk drinkers consumed more than this.

In a separate study, the Institute for Alcohol Studies (IAS) found that if drinking doesn’t return to pre-pandemic levels, by 2035 there will be 147,892 more cases of nine alcohol-related illnesses – for example. such as cirrhosis and breast cancer – and an additional 9,914 premature deaths, costing £1.2 billion. There are more than 200 alcohol-related health conditions, including seven types of cancer.

Colin Angus, who led the University of Sheffield research, said: ‘The pandemic’s impact on our drinking behavior is likely to leave a lasting shadow on our health and draw. So a disturbing picture at a time when NHS services are already under enormous pressure due to treatment. backlog. ‘

Before the pandemic, men were more likely to be hospitalized or die from drinking and still are today. However, Dr Angus added, experts are seeing an increase in hospital admissions among women.

He said: ‘There was a particular uptick in women’s drinking at the point where they were more likely to be homeschooling during the first course.’ He says this burden of ‘stress’ can cause some people to drink more.

Dr Angus added that heavier drinkers may have been drinking more at home during the lockdown but, as pubs reopen, they’re not cutting back on drinking at home – both like so.

IAS research lead Dr Sadie Boniface said: ‘The pandemic has a bad effect on alcohol: alcohol-related deaths have hit record levels, and inequality is widening. This study should serve as a wake-up call to take the harmful effects of alcohol seriously as part of a post-pandemic recovery plan. ‘

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