Tony Blair fails to understand the seriousness of the nation's alcohol problems,
leading doctors said yesterday.
A conference at the Royal College of Physicians criticised Government policies,
which concentrated on the effects of excessive drinking on crime and disorder
rather than its harmful effects on health.
Dr Michael Hellier, president of the British Society of Gastroenterology, which
jointly organised the conference, criticised Mr Blair's description of alcohol
misuse by a "small minority" in the Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy for England
published last year.
"Alcohol misuse costs the NHS about £2 billion a year, accounts for 70 per cent
of cases in A&E after midnight and is responsible for £150,000 admissions a
year. I would not call this a small minority issue.
"Mr Blair was either misinformed or failed to grasp the gravity of the problem,"
Dr Hellier said.
Prof Chris Day, of the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, said that between two
and 12 per cent of the NHS budget went directly or indirectly on treating injury
and diseases caused by alcohol.
Dr Nick Sheron, a member of the college's alcohol committee, said the Government
should do more to publicise the harm that alcohol could do.
"It is a myth that alcohol affects only a tiny minority," he said.
Source: Financial Times
Information Limited - Europe Intelligence Wire.