Nearly a million people were admitted to hospital due to alcohol-related harm in England in 2008/09, researchers have found.

A survey by the North West Public Health Observatory found there were 945,469 admissions to hospital for alcohol-related harm, a rise of 825 admissions compared to five years ago.

It also revealed more than a quarter of drinkers exceed healthy limits every week.

The findings came as experts recommended a UK-wide price limit on drink should be brought in to try to curb alcohol misuse.

The Alcohol Commission, which was set up by the Labour Party in Scotland, has recommended a ban on selling drink at below the “floor price” of the cost of production, plus the cost of duty and VAT.

The study found that northerners were the most prolific drinkers, but alcohol-related crimes were committed mostly in London.

The academics based at Liverpool John Moores University’s Centre for Public Health published the findings in their Local Alcohol Profiles for England 2010 report.

Professor Mark Bellis, the observatory’s director, said: “The price we pay for turning a blind eye to the real extent of alcohol abuse across England is reflected in the new Local Alcohol Profiles for England and it is a price that is paid especially by the poorest communities.

“The English death toll from alcohol now exceeds 15,500 people every year. It is time to recognise that we are not a population of responsible drinkers with just a handful of irresponsible individuals ruining it for others.

“Over one in four drinkers exceed weekly limits according to national surveys and alcohol sales figures suggest the number is much higher.

“At weekends, by the early morning hours our city centres do not have just a few drunk individuals in them - actually most people are drunk yet continue to be able to buy alcohol despite such sales being illegal.

“We need to see the real cost of alcohol reflected in the price it is sold at and the warnings about the dangers that alcohol represents not relegated to a tiny corner in alcohol adverts, but written large enough for people to recognise the seriousness of the risks.”

Dr Ruth Hussey, regional director of public health for the North West, said: “Parts of the North West have already pioneered new ways to educate the public about alcohol and improve access to care for those requiring support. Alcohol costs people their jobs, their health and their lives.”