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Fears over child-drinking growth


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Excessive drinking by young people has seen a 20% rise in hospital admissions in England, a BBC inquiry has revealed.

Using NHS statistics, Panorama found 20 cases a day of under-18s diagnosed with conditions like alcohol poisoning.


Royal College of Surgeons president Prof Ian Gilmore said alcohol should be made more expensive to deter the young.


Figures from the NHS Information Centre showed that between 2004 and 2005 the number of admissions was 7,500, up from 6,288 in the previous year.


The government said tackling binge drinking was a priority.




Panorama examined statistics provided by the NHS Information Centre.


Ian Foster, of the North West Ambulance Service - which covers Cheshire and Merseyside, one of the worst-hit areas - said: "It's not unusual for a child to have drunk a litre of vodka. That would have me on my back for three or four weeks.


"Resources are quite sparse anyway so to be dragged from pillar to post all over the city for underage drinking, which is avoidable, is keeping us from the patients that we're trained to treat."


'Nanny state'


Professor Ian Gilmore, president of the Royal College of Physicians, said: "I think the fact that we're seeing things getting worse, rather than better, two years after a harm reduction strategy, means we need to revisit this very urgently."


And he added alcohol should be made more expensive to deter youngsters.


"The government does not want to be accused of being in the nanny state. But I think we're in a situation at the moment of where nanny knows best and if we don't do something, we're going to regret it in a few years time."


Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley said: "Anybody who has stood in an A&E department and seen a 15-year-old comatose from drinking a bottle of vodka will understand this is a serious and worsening issue.


"Young people are too ignorant about alcohol. They appear increasingly careless of the damage they are doing to themselves and are too susceptible to peer pressure.


"We have to empower young people to know the hazards of excessive drinking and encourage a sense of responsibility and self awareness to resist the pressure."


A Department of Health spokeswoman said: "Tackling binge drinking is a priority.


"Although levels of binge drinking are no longer rising, there is no room for complacency."


However, she pointed out progress was being made with police clamping down on town centre drinking and education campaigns on sensible drinking.


The government was also working with the drinks industry to establish a voluntary agreement on responsible drinking labelling



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I agree but not sure if making it more expensive will deter young'uns. This will just make it seem even more desirable!! I think the main thing is not being allowed alcohol until you're 18, in other countries without this law, some children are introduced to small amounts of alcohol with their family and dont see it as such a big deal....here its all about getting pissed and doing something you shouldnt.


Im also sad to say I know of at least 4 people who have had their stomach pumped/got alcohol poisoning when I was at secondary school. Its just stupid.

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I definitely don't agree with increasing the price of alcohol. Why should my purse suffer because some members of society can't bring their children up properly? The more cynical side of me sees it as the government thinking of a brilliant new way to rake more taxes in from the GBP. If they up the price of alcohol they could easily make millions more from VAT.


The other thing is the teaching side of things. Have they not learnt from sex education? Teaching children/teenagers about sex & the dangers hasn't led to a decrease in underage sex or underage pregnancies. Do they really think that teaching you all about alcohol & the various illnesses is going to stop the "cool kids" from going down to the park on a sat night and drinking bottles of cider?


The whole country is a mess because parents aren't able to sufficiently discipline or control their children. Some because they are incapable, others because the government has slowly stripped them of their disciplinary powers & the legal deterrents just aren't there.

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