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Positive Outcomes from Minimum Alcohol Pricing in Scotland

MINIMUM unit pricing (MUP) was first introduced in Scotland in 2018, raising the price per unit of alcohol to 50p. Now, experts have welcomed the message from a recent report that cases of cirrhosis being admitted to hospital has dropped this year: the rate of admissions is now 8 per 100,000, compared with 9 per 100,000 admissions in 2017-2018.

The report is titled the Alcohol Related Hospital Statistics report, published each year by Information Services Division Scotland. As well as the encouraging results about cirrhosis hospital admission, the report revealed that the disparity of hospital admissions for alcohol-related problems between affluent and deprived areas in Scotland has shrunk. Hospital stay rate for men and women has also decreased: it is now 23% and 18% lower, respectively, than in 2007-2008.

Since 2014-2015, cirrhosis has been the most frequently recorded alcohol-related liver disease in Scotland. Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP) has worked tirelessly since 2006 to educate the public on the risks associated with alcohol consumption, such as cirrhosis. Regarding the new report, chair of SHAAP Dr Peter Rice commented “They show a decline in admission for liver disease, which we are pleased about as liver disease is a major problem here in Scotland. The data needs further analysis, but it shows that there are declines in hospital admissions, particularly in the lowest income group. This is welcome because people living in deprivation have experienced the greatest increase in rates of alcohol harm and increased rates of alcohol-related mortality since the mid-1990s. SHAAP’s analysis was that the health of those on lowest incomes would benefit most from MUP, so these early figures are encouraging.”

While the results are certainly good news, there is still more to be done. Rice added that he would like to see “improvement in treatment access and action on the marketing of alcohol” in the future.