Manchester Council wants NHS alcohol debate

Manchester Council is calling for a public debate on whether people treated at hospital emergency units for drink-related injuries should pay for care.

Manchester has one of the highest rates in England for alcohol-related hospital admissions with 13,783 admissions in 2011, the council said.

Councillor Glyn Evans said: "There is such a pressure on the NHS to deliver services, this is a big drain on it."

The Department of Health said charging would need a change in the law.

"The NHS is always free at the point of use," said a spokeswoman.

Mr Evans, who is lead councillor for adult health, also said he was not personally in favour of charging people but added: "It's a debate we need to have both locally and nationally."

David Regan, Director of Public Health for Manchester, said there was a case for charging if public opinion favoured it.

A spokesman for Lifeline, the alcohol counselling charity, said: "The idea stinks, it will be counter productive."

He added that the better solution was the one adopted by the charity which works in A&E units to offer counselling and support to young people admitted with alcohol-related problems.

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