The National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP) has given its support to the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill and urged the Government not to bow to pressure from private interests. The GP body say the Legislative Bill puts health before profit. Family doctors, as the first point of contact for health advice, strongly support this approach.
Dr. Emmet Kerin, NAGP President, said, “Family doctors see, first-hand, the troubling consequences of alcohol abuse on young people and the associated social problems. Three people died each day in 2013 as a result of drinking alcohol. The statistics are harrowing. This is an important bill, legislating for the first time on alcohol consumption as a public health measure. As healthcare professionals in the community, we recognise the importance of this bill. The Government must resist the pressures of private interests who would seek to put profit from alcohol sales ahead of the public interest. The visibility of alcohol must be reduced in retail outlets and health labelling should be included to help consumers make better decisions for their health and well being, both mental and physical”.
€1.5 billion is the cost to the tax-payer for alcohol-related discharges from hospital. In 2013, alcohol-related discharges accounted for 160,211 bed days in public hospitals. This is 3.6% of all bed days that year. This compares to 56,264 bed days, or 1.7% of the total, in 1995. The number of patients with alcohol-related illnesses is increasing. The population in Ireland is growing with an increasing ageing population. Adequate resourcing of health services must be supported by health promotion initiatives to reduce preventable diseases.
Dr. Kerin concluded, “Our health system is overwhelmed. Health promotion initiatives such as the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill are critical to reducing preventable diseases and keeping patients well”.