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11 July 2018, 07:11
Hospital admissions for people with brain damage caused by alcohol are the worst in a decade, official figures have shown.
The equivalent of almost two people per day were treated in hospital after sustained heavy drinking caused the condition, which can lead to problems with memory and learning.
A total of 661 patients were admitted to hospital across Scotland with alcohol-related brain damage in 2016/17, up 25 on the previous year and the highest in 10 years.
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde had the most admissions for treatment for the condition at 230, followed by 99 in NHS Lothian and 84 in NHS Lanarkshire.
The figures were released in response to a parliamentary question by Scottish Conservative health spokesman Miles Briggs, who called for ministerial action.
He said: "It's worrying that these statistics continue to rise and means more people are having their lives badly impacted by drinking too much alcohol.
"Scotland already has one of the worst records in Europe for alcohol consumption and, despite increased awareness, the problem only seems to be getting worse."
He noted the Scottish Government recently brought in minimum unit pricing for alcohol, following a lengthy legal battle, but said "far more will be required if we are to make any meaningful difference".
He added: "The SNP has been in power since 2007 and in that time more people have been admitted to hospital with this problem.
"Health is an entirely devolved issue and therefore we need to see ministers taking full responsibility for this worsening situation.
"The decision by SNP ministers to cut funding for alcohol and drug partnerships was wrong, and has clearly impacted on the delivery of services to support people addicted to alcohol."
He called for more emphasis on recovery programmes and pilot schemes for new treatments.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: "While progress has been made in tackling alcohol misuse, we're determined to go further.
"In the past decade we have invested over £746 million to address problem alcohol and drug use, and we'll be delivering an additional £20 million a year to further improve services.
"We've recently implemented Minimum Unit Pricing to tackle the cheap, high strength alcohol that causes so much damage to families and communities across the country.
"We also provide funding to NHS Boards to treat local health needs, including people with alcohol-related brain injury. We expect alcohol services, mental health services and social services to work jointly in these cases to ensure those injured receive the help they need to recover and any underlying mental health issues are addressed.
"We're currently refreshing our Alcohol Strategy, providing an opportunity to further consider any additional actions and steps needed to tackle alcohol-related harm in Scotland."