Highlands & Islands

NHS Highland boss shocked by alcohol-related death rate

Image caption Dr Somerville said the alcohol-related health problems have to be tackled

A health chief who moved from England to take up a top appointment at NHS Highland has told of her shock at the region's alcohol problems.

Dr Margaret Somerville became director of public health in February.

She said the rate of alcohol-related deaths in the board area were worse than she had expected.

Her comments follow the release of her first annual report which says it costs Highland £15m a year to treat illness caused by drink, smoking and obesity.

The health board covers the Highlands and parts of Argyll.

Dr Somerville told BBC Radio Scotland that NHS Highland was clear that deaths from alcohol-related conditions were worse in its area than in Scotland as a whole.

She said: "It is one of the things that I found particularly noticeable when I started working here in February.

"I always knew that coming from England that Scotland's alcohol-related mortality was worse than England's.

"But I didn't realise how much worse and that Highland was worse than Scotland as a whole. It really is an issue we have to tackle."

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