Alcohol-related deaths will take 'decades' to reduce

Man drinking a pint of lager Image copyright PA

It will take decades to see the number of alcohol-related deaths fall significantly, a charity has warned.

The comment comes after the Welsh Government said deaths had stabilised following a significant rise towards the end of the last decade.

There were 463 deaths in 2015 and 504 in 2012, while all liver disease deaths were up 19.4% over the last five years.

But substance misuse charity Cais said there were still many older people who had drinking problems.

"I think we need to take cautious optimism from these figures," said Clive Wolfendale, the charity's chief executive.

"Deaths remain far too high. We still have decades of ill-health long stowed up in our population.

"There's certainly a culture of drinking to excess among the older generation and it's going to take some decades to play out.

"There are signs that alcohol consumption among teenagers are on the decline but, in some cases, they are turning to new psycho-active substances."

Mr Wolfendale added he was pleased to hear plans to introduce a new law setting a minimum price for alcohol in Wales could be revived by the Welsh Government.

Image copyright Welsh Government

Under the plans, the cost of alcohol would be determined by a formula based on its strength and volume.

However, the proposal depends on the result of a Supreme Court challenge against similar plans by the Scottish Government.

Meanwhile, Health Secretary Vaughan Gething said the Welsh Government's annual report on liver disease shows there is still more work to be done.

As well as alcohol, obesity and blood borne viral hepatitis C are the other most preventable causes of liver disease.

"In Wales, we want to reduce the number of people getting and dying from liver disease," he said.

"We want to ensure people - whatever their age - value good liver health, and are aware of the dangers of excess alcohol, obesity and blood borne viral hepatitis.

"We want everyone to take personal responsibility for their lifestyle choices and reduce the risk of acquiring preventable liver disease."

He said during 2015-16 there had been "continued progress in the care of patients with liver disease in Wales".

"We've seen a reduction in the number of alcohol-related deaths over recent years, but we know there's much more to do," he added.

"Services are improving throughout Wales, despite dealing with complex demand.

"The service needs to continue to undergo change if it is to cope with patients and their needs."

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