Drink death shame of resort

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The true scale of Blackpool’s liver disease health crisis has been revealed today in the pages of a damning report.

According to figures provided by Public Health England (PHE), more than 160 people died from liver disease in the resort between 2010 and 2012, with 11 people dying of hepatitis C-related disease.

Coun Eddie Collett

Coun Eddie Collett

Both figures were the highest in the North West, while the report also revealed the town had the highest death rate in England for liver disease in people aged under 75.

Coun Eddie Collett, Blackpool Council cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said “there is still much work to do” to reduce the number of people dying from liver disease-related illness.

He added: “The picture in relation to the impact of excessive alcohol consumption, the volume of cases of hepatitis B and C, unhealthy weight and early death in Blackpool is well known.

“Progress has been seen with a reduction in alcohol related admissions and improvements in hepatitis B vaccination and hepatitis C screening but there is still much work to do.

“Enhanced treatment pathways for hepatitis C are now in place and a range of specialist weight management services are now available for those who need additional help to manage their weight.”

The disease is the only major cause of death in England which is on the rise, while in the rest of Europe the death rate is falling in line with alcohol consumption. Close to 7,500 people died from liver disease in 2001 compared with 11,000 in 2012, making liver disease one of England’s top killers.

‘Minimum pricing key to alcohol use’

Earlier this year The Gazette exposed shops which were selling alcohol on Central Drive, Blackpool, where super strong cider was being sold cheaper than a bottle of water.

In some shops reporters were able to buy 500ml cans of Omega – a 7.5 per cent strength white cider – for just 89p, with bottled water on sale either at the same price or more expensive.

At the same time, Blackpool’s director of public health Arif Rajpura wrote to Prime Minister David Cameron urging a crackdown on strong, cheap booze by introducing a minimum price for alcohol.

Dr Rajpura said: “This is something I am trying to tackle in Blackpool.

“Minimum unit pricing is an absolute no-brainer and something that needs to be done to stop people consuming this really cheap alcohol.

“In the absence of the government taking these measures, we are working with Blackpool Council to introduce by-laws for minimum unit pricing.”