Belfast Telegraph

Quarter of casualty cases drink-related

By Sarah Brett
27 January 2005

At least a quarter of all admissions to casualty rooms in the North West's two main hospitals are drink-related, it can be revealed today.

Londonderry's Altnagelvin Hospital and Letterkenny General Hospital have both confirmed that their emergency departments are inundated with admissions related to drinking, estimating the figure at one in four and rising.

Accident and Emergency Consultant at Altnagelvin, Dr Alan McKinney, today said that alcohol is the single most important factor in preventable injury in the region.

"We have major difficulties with alcohol-related violence and assault and serious problems with general health, mental health and every type of accident you can think of, from car accidents to accidents in the home," he said.

"In my experience alcohol becomes a factor in injuries from the age of 13 onwards.

"People just don't take it seriously and have this cavalier attitude that 'everybody has a little drink now and then'.

"But the population of drinkers is increasing all the time as is the amount of alcohol they consume.

"Perhaps most worrying is the explosive mixture of young people and binge drinking which is something that urgently needs to be addressed from all quarters."

The figures for Letterkenny Hospital emerged yesterday when the North West Alcohol Forum hit out at recent price wars to reduce the price of alcohol.

Stressing the strength of his views, Chairman Denis Bradley said it was "a defining moment in the drinking culture of Ireland".

While he acknowledged that publicans had to earn a living, he added that they "should not be allowed to do so on the back of the health and well-being of the people of this country".

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