Dr Alastair Ireland, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s Clinical Director for Emergency Medicine, welcomed the publication of the Scottish Government comissioned report on alcohol misuse. He said: “This report highlights the massive impact alcohol misuse places upon the NHS and its partner organisations.
“The costs of treatment for patients with alcohol-related medical needs vary according to the severity of the case. There is no doubt however that, given there are around 8500 hospital admissions in Glasgow every year as a result of alcohol misuse and more than 30% of A&E attendances are alcohol-related, the burden on the entire NHS system is enormous.
“I am in support of any measure that would help reduce the terrible toll that alcohol is having on individuals and the NHS as a whole and minimum pricing is perhaps the key to this. The fact that people would not have the money in their pockets to buy drink excessively might be the only factor which prevents a potentially life destroying injury.”
As a frontline medic Dr Ireland regularly sees the very worst effects of alcohol abuse.
He explained: “The immediate costs to the NHS of treating alcohol-related emergencies can range from £800 for a simple case of admitting a patient one or two days to more than £34,000 for treating a complex case of an alcohol-related head injury.
“And these are only the costs related to the immediate acute phase of treatment after injury. They do not include the costs associated with months, if not years, of primary care service and follow-on rehabilitation.”
Below is the breakdown of the two examples of the variance in treatment costs depending on the severity of alcohol related harm.
Complex case of alcohol related head injury just in the immediate acute phase after injury - £34,237. This includes more than £1000 in the resuscitation department in A&E, £350 for a CT scan, £75 for an ambulance transfer to the Southern General’s Neurosurgery Unit, nearly £9,000 for three days in ITU, £6000 for days in Neurosurgery Unit, £16,000 for three weeks of care in a ward and £768 for one days visit the Community Brain Injury Centre.
These costs only represent the acute phase of treatment and do not include the costs associated with months, if not years, of primary care service and follow-on acute care.
Simple case of alcohol-related head injury in the immediate acute phase after injury - £798. This includes £96 for treatment in A&E, £315 treatment for one day’s care in a receiving ward plus a further £387 for two more days in a general medical ward.
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