I was pleased to join the launch of the Liverpool Alcohol Research Centre today. The centre brings together expertise from across our health, university and local authority sectors. It is a really important public health initiative for our city, recognising the importance of cutting edge medical science, social and economic factors and mental health in combating alcohol dependency.
It is an ambitious project with a real vision to tackle the misuse of alcohol, to improve awareness, to join up treatments, and to help some of the most vulnerable people in Liverpool.
Across the Liverpool City Region, the economic cost of misuse of alcohol has been estimated at £750 million a year. In each part of the city region there are higher rates of alcohol dependency, and higher rates of alcohol-related hospital admissions than the English average.
Alcoholism is a terrible disease with terrible human consequences, leading to avoidable deaths, family break ups and increased violence in homes and on our streets. Physical health suffers, mental health deteriorates, jobs are lost, relationships break-down and homelessness increases.
And yet, a staggering 95 per cent of people with a dependence on alcohol are not receiving any support or treatment.
As a member of the Health and Social Care Select Committee, I know that the best way to tackle misuse of alcohol is prevention. I have pressed for control on the alcohol content of drinks, improved packaging, better licensing laws, public awareness campaigns and preventative work in the community.
The government’s NHS Ten-Year Plan recognises the need to shift resources towards prevention, but does not address the funding gap within the NHS and public health. We need a system of public health which properly intervenes early to really make a difference.
The Liverpool Centre for Alcohol Research enjoys much goodwill from the outset, and will continue to have the support of all of us who want to see serious improvements in public health and an end to health inequalities.