Alcohol cases in Emergency Departments costing €1.2 billion annually

“It is estimated that 1,500 hospital beds are occupied every night in our hospitals, directly because of alcohol related cases, costing an estimated €1.2 billion annually. This is a national shame and an issue that must be addressed head on through the implementation of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015”, says Peter Fitzpatrick, Fine Gael TD for Louth and Member of the Oireachtas Health Committee.

“Professor Frank Murray, President of the Royal College of Physicians Ireland, Chair of the RCPI Policy Group and liver specialist in Beaumount Hospital, yesterday (Tuesday) appeared before the Health Committee to speak about the impact of alcohol on our health system in the context of the upcoming Alcohol Bill.

“Professor Murray highlighted the importance of this legislation in addressing Ireland’s completely unhealthy and extremely dangerous relationship with alcohol.

“Given the current crisis, with hundreds of patients on trolleys in emergency departments, it is unacceptable that 1,500 beds are being taken up each night due to alcohol related cases.

“Alcohol consumption in Ireland has doubled in the past fifty years and as a result there are now twice the number of deaths due to cirrhosis of the liver, one in ten first admissions to psychiatric hospitals is alcohol related and alcohol is classed as a major cause of cancer, primarily breast, colon and oesophageal. Alcohol is also a factor in suicide, domestic abuse and accidents. 

“Research tells us that about 80% of Irish adults consume alcohol and more than half of those are classified as harmful drinkers.  Almost 10 per cent of those who consume alcohol are dependent; this means that we live in a country where virtually every family is affected by alcohol. 

“There is a groundswell of support for the Alcohol Bill, this legislation is badly needed to address the major problem that is alcohol in Irish society. Minimum Unit Pricing is the single most important aspect of this legislation as it will reduce the availability of cheap alcohol consumed by underage, young drinkers, by those who binge drink and by hazardous drinkers. 

“Professor Murray highlighted again the importance of this new legislation and put a spotlight on the benefits to be reaped from tackling Ireland’s drink problem. This legislation will make alcohol less available and will therefore reduce the number of alcohol related illnesses, in turn saving billions for the Irish taxpayer.”