More than 7 per cent of hospital admissions in 2009-10 were caused by alcohol, according to data analysis by Dr Foster Intelligence for HSJ.
The number of patients admitted due to alcohol has risen by more than 50 per cent since 2002, adding weight to warnings by medics this week that action is needed to stop the rise in deaths linked to alcohol.
The analysis found there were 1.05 million admissions attributable to alcohol last year, out of a total of 14.5 million hospital admissions
The data shows variation between different parts of the country, with 2,000 admissions related to alcohol per 100,000 people in the Midlands and the North while in the South the figure is less than 1,500 per 100,000 people.
There were more than 4,000 admissions due to alcohol per 100,000 men in each of Liverpool, Heart of Birmingham and Middlesbrough primary care trusts, nearly twice the national average of 2,240 per 100,000 for men. The national average for women is 1,214 per 100,000.
Comparing the figures with data from the NHS Information Centre shows that areas which have high numbers of admissions due to alcohol also have higher rates of mortality from chronic liver disease.
A report authored by former Royal College of Physicians president Ian Gilmore said UK deaths from liver disease had more than doubled over the past 20 years, while those in other countries have remained low.
In January the Home Office announced a ban on selling alcohol below the rate of duty plus VAT, but campaigners have said the move is not enough.
Association of Directors of Public Health president Dr Frank Atherton said the government’s plan was “very much around the margins” and “it won’t change drinking patterns”.
He said there was evidence to support the efficacy of a minimum unit price of 50p and said this would disproportionately target the heaviest drinkers.
The North East region had the highest rate, with 2,440 admissions per 100,000. Susan Taylor, partnerships manager at campaign group Balance North East, agreed that the government has not gone far enough.
She said: “Alcohol is available for pocket money prices. We [support] introducing a minimum price per unit of alcohol, as well as making it less available.”
A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “The government has wasted no time in taking tough action to tackle problem drinking, including plans to stop supermarkets selling below cost alcohol and working to introduce a tougher licensing regime.”