Royal College of Physicians of Ireland calls for the urgent enactment of the Public Health Alcohol Bill

Prof Frank Murray

RCPI President, Prof Frank Murray, says the adoption and enforcement of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill must be a key component of a new 10 year plan for the health services

The Royal College of Physicians of Ireland says that newly compiled data from the Health Research Board shows the shocking toll that alcohol use is having  on every family and community and on the Irish the healthcare system.

It confirms that the way Irish people drink results in 3 deaths every day and thousands of hospital admissions.

Alcohol harm utilizes 10% of the entire money spend on public health services in Ireland.

Prof Frank Murray, President of the Royal College of Physicians and liver specialist at Beaumont Hospital, said the sharp rise in the number of young people developing alcoholic liver disease is a particular cause for concern.

“This used to be a disease that we saw in older men who drank heavily in pubs for many years. The HRB data demonstrates that, between 1995-2013, the rate of increase in alcoholic liver disease trebled among 15-34 year olds, which shows that young people are drinking harmful amounts of alcohol that will either lead to premature death or lifelong chronic illnesses.

“It also shows that as more women consume alcohol in greater amounts, this is having an adverse impact on their health. 1 in 10 breast cancers between 2001 and 2010 was attributable to alcohol.

“The HRB data also shows how great the burden of alcohol use is on the hospital system – taking up thousands of beds every night, and contributing to the crisis in accident and emergency departments, delaying treatment for many other sick people. Treating alcohol-related illness in hospitals also costs €1 of every €10 spent on health in Ireland, which is unsustainable.

“The Public Health (Alcohol) Bill, which is now scheduled to continue its journey through the Seanad and the Dáil, gives us in Ireland an opportunity to change the way we consume alcohol as a nation, reducing the harm and suffering for so many people.

“Today, I urge all Oireachtas members to urgently adopt this important piece of public health legislation and all of its contents, including establishing a minimum unit price for alcohol and introducing health labelling.

“It is time to reduce the deaths and pain caused by alcohol use in Ireland. It is also essential for this Government to address harmful alcohol use through the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill as part of the development of a plan for the health services for the next 10 years” Prof Murray said.

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