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Health chiefs slammed over shocking rise in alcohol-related deaths

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Scottish health chiefs have been accused of failing to tackle the nation’s drinking problem with the number of alcohol-related deaths spiralling to its worst level since 2010.

More than 1,100 people died last year as a result of alcohol-related issues, while there was a significant jump in those linked to mental and behavioural disorders due to problem drinking.

The shocking figures, released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), show 1,139 people died from such causes in 2016, with 729 alone succumbing to alcoholic liver disease.

Dave Barrie, service manager of Addaction Dundee said there is a “growing concern” over the level of alcohol abuse and called for health bosses to do more.

“We are always pushing for more to be done at government level because we see the significant harms that come from alcohol misuse – more needs to be done and more could be done,” he said.

“The impact on our communities through both alcohol and drug addiction is massive, with many people losing their jobs or their families.”

He added: “I believe we need to encourage people to seek help much earlier because all too often we see them coming in years later when a huge amount of damage has already been done.”

Addaction service manager Dave Barrie

The latest ONS results continue a worrying trend of alcohol-related deaths increasing year on year in Scotland since 2012, with 94 more reported last year than in 2015.

They also found a sharp increase in deaths linked to mental and behavioural disorders due to alcohol use in recent years, with 121 more cases in 2016 than the 200 reported just three years earlier.

Scottish Conservative shadow health secretary Miles Briggs MSP said the figures amounted to a “national crisis”.

“Hundreds of Scots are dying every year due to alcohol, and these statistics show the situation is only getting worse,” he said.

“The SNP cuts to Scotland’s network of alcohol and drug partnerships is clearly impacting the level of support on offer, and we are starting to see the results.”

Public Health Minister Aileen Campbell said “huge progress” had been made in tackling alcohol misuse but admitted she wants efforts to “go further”.

“Our Framework for Action outlines more than 40 measures to reduce alcohol-related harm, including the quantity discount ban, a ban on irresponsible promotions, a lower drink drive limit and our nationwide alcohol brief intervention programme,” she said.

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