The introduction of minimum pricing on alcohol could save more than 1,000 lives every year, according to a report on BMJ.com. Researchers even suggest raising unit prices from 40p to 50p with a view to doubling the life-saving results.
The Government announced last month that it was planning to set a minimum price of 40p per unit of alcohol for England and Wales. Alcohol-related hospital admissions doubled in England between 2002 to 2010, to around 265,000 each year. With a reorganisation of the NHS underway, it is hoped that the new policies will also help cut the workload of under-pressure A&E departments.
Cameron will say that alcohol abuse costs A&E services £1bn out of the £2.7bn a year. According to The Guardian, the wider cost to society is put at between £17bn and £22bn a year. The number of patients with acute intoxication has more than doubled to 18,500 since 2002-03.
The BMJ.com report's author, John Appleby, chief economist at the King's Fund, said: "Whether or not these observations constitute a substantial problem now - given the lags in health and other effects of drinking and recent falls in consumption - the impacts of various price and non-price interventions to reduce drinking have been extensively modelled, and they show significant results."