Alcohol problems cost €1 in €10 spent on healthcare

 

Sir, – It is notable the speed and ease with which legislation is proceeding through the Houses of the Oireachtas that will further increase the availability of alcohol.

While I’m not necessarily objecting to the changes regarding licensing laws to facilitate alcohol sales on Good Friday nor the sale of alcohol at craft breweries per se, the political consensus that greets the passage of these measures is in stark contrast to the endless objections and delays to the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill – a measure that will deliver enormous health benefits to Irish society. If it ever sees the light of day.

The numbers are compelling. Some 1,500 hospitals beds occupied every night due to alcohol, with three people dying every day as a result of alcohol use. The Health Research Board estimates alcohol consumption in Ireland costs the economy and taxpayers in excess of €1.5 billion a year. It accounts for €1 in every €10 spent on healthcare. Work absenteeism due to alcohol costs €41 million a year. Not to mention the ravaging impacts on relationships, psychological, physical and emotional wellbeing.

If ill-health due to alcohol consumption is not reduced, the already overstretched health service will not be able to serve the number of people who require health care in Ireland. Plain and simple.

An inconvenient truth for some perhaps, but truth nonetheless.

The next time a politician complains about waiting lists and problems for constituents accessing healthcare, they should be reminded that they have the power to do something about this – to desist from further delaying the Public Health Alcohol Bill. – Yours, etc,

Dr MARK ROWE,

General Practitioner,

Member of Healthy

Ireland Council

and Alcohol Health Alliance,

Waterford.