Prescribing Advice for GPs

An NHS Prescribing Advisers' Blog

Minimum alcohol prices gaining support

Earlier this year the Chief Medical Officer recommended introducing a minimum price for each unit of alcohol.

The Annual Report for 2008 devoted an entire chapter to the topic of excessive alcohol consumption and examined the concept of passive drinking. This concept includes effects beyond the drinking individual such as behavioural and emotional problems in families and alcohol-related crime.

The proposal to introduce a minimum price of 50p per unit of alcohol is predicted to result in:

  • Over 3,000 fewer deaths
  • Almost 98,000 fewer hospital admissions
  • 45,800 fewer crimes
  • 296,900 fewer sick day
  • A saving of over £1 billion

According to the BBC, the Prime Minister is concerned that raising the price of alcohol may unfairly penalise sensible drinkers, however the recommendation has received support from the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Nurses.

Action: Clinicians will already be aware of the harms that result from excessive alcohol consumption. Clinicians should continue to encourage sensible drinking levels to reduce personal and social harms.

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