Regional alcohol managers will be appointed as part of a Government scheme to tackle alcohol abuse in Birmingham.
The £6 million scheme will see funding pumped into the city, one of the worst-hit areas in the country for alcohol misuse.
Public Health Minister Dawn Primarolo announced the scheme at the National Alcohol Conference in Nottingham yesterday, saying it was aimed at tackling a “serious problem that needs urgent attention”.
The scheme will put measures including establishing regional alcohol managers and compiling information on statistics, hospital admissions and medical conditions. It will increase access to specialist treatments and give advice.
Heart of Birmingham, South Birmingham and Stoke-on-Trent Primary Care Trusts are among 20 to receive a share of £3 million to tackle the problem.
Another £2.7 million will be spent on regional alcohol managers and £450,000 will go to the national support team. An extra £1 million will fund an alcohol learning centre to raise awareness about alcohol-related conditions.
Ms Primarolo said: “More than a quarter of adults in England drink above Government guidelines and around 15,000 people die because of alcohol every year. We clearly have a serious problem that needs urgent attention.
“Starting with the most deprived areas in inequality hotspots, we are going to roll out a programme which will identify and help drinkers at risk.
“For every pound spent on alcohol intervention, five pounds are saved by the public purse – this is money well spent.” The move was welcomed by charity Alcohol Concern.
Chief executive Don Shenker said: “Problem drinkers have faced a postcode lottery for services for far too long. This new injection of cash is most welcome for the areas worst affected by alcohol misuse and all areas will benefit from improved information and guidance. Slowly, but surely, areas are now being provided with the tools they need to invest in alcohol treatment. The challenge will be for them to convert this into services on the ground for those who need it most.”
In May NHS figures showed how Midland A&E units recorded the third highest levels of admissions due to alcohol in the country.
In 2006-07 the region’s hospitals admitted 20,650 – one in 10 of all admissions in England, which rose from 93,459 in 1995-96 to 207,788 in the last financial year. Birmingham’s PCTs totalled 5,333 in the same period – South Birmingham (1,882), Birmingham East and Northern (1,701) and Heart of Birmingham (1,750) – representing a quarter of the regional total.
The figures were published by the NHS Information Centre.