Within Brighton & Hove, the impact of alcohol is considerable. Rates of alcohol-related A&E attendance and hospital admissions continue to increase year on year, and more than one in three respondents to our Big Alcohol Debate were worried about the effect alcohol has on people in the city. Brighton & Hove is in the top quartile of areas for alcohol specific mortality with death from chronic liver disease being higher than the national average.
However, the sale of alcohol through pubs, clubs and restaurants is very important to the economy of the city, and this fine balance must be considered when implementing policies locally.
Each week in the city there is an average of:
- 66 ambulance call-outs due to alcohol
- 46 attendances at Brighton A&E department related to alcohol
- 11 people under the age of 25 years seen by Safe Space on West Street
- 97 alcohol-related inpatient hospital admissions for adult residents of Brighton & Hove
- Two deaths associated with the impact of alcohol (almost one death a week wholly related to alcohol)
The Joint Strategic Needs Assessment highlights the groups who are most affected by alcohol:
- Alcohol-related attendances at A&E are 50% higher in city residents from the most deprived quintile compared with those in the most affluent quintile of the population.
- Young men aged 19-29 years old were the most frequent group attending A&E for alcohol or assault reasons. Longer-term alcohol-related health problems are seen in increasing numbers of 35-54 year old males being admitted to hospital for alcohol specific conditions i.e. for alcohol intoxication, dependence and harmful use.
- People with severe and enduring mental illness are three times more likely to be alcohol dependent than the general population.
- Locally, people of White Irish ethnicity are significantly more likely than any other ethnic group to be at increasing/high risk of alcohol related harm (25% compared to 18% across all ethnic groups in the city).
- People in Other Ethnic, Asian or Asian British and Black or Black British groups are more likely not to drink alcohol. These findings correspond to national research.
- Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people living in St. James Street and Kemp Town were more likely to drink alcohol than those in other areas.
The transfer of Public Health to the Local Authority and recent changes in licensing legislation that give health authorities a statutory role in the licensing process have provided further opportunities to tackle alcohol related harm through the licensing process. The factors that licensing policy aims to address include:
- Pre-loading, street drinking and binge drinking.
- Availability of alcohol.
- Low prices, with very cheap alcohol readily available in off licences.
- A perception that rules around alcohol licensing are not enforced (serving drunks in particular).
- Visitors avoiding the town centre due to drinking culture.
- Lack of non-alcohol based leisure facilities.