Suffolk charity leaders blame ‘scandalous’ rise in alcohol-related deaths on ‘brutal’ budget cuts

PUBLISHED: 06:00 09 November 2017

More people are dying from alcohol misuse than ever before

More people are dying from alcohol misuse than ever before

The number of people dying in the East of England because of alcohol abuse has reached its highest level since records began in 1994, new figures reveal.

Tony Kimber, chief executive of Focus 12. Picture: CHRIS SHIMWELLTony Kimber, chief executive of Focus 12. Picture: CHRIS SHIMWELL

Charity bosses running rehabilitation services in Suffolk have blamed austerity for the snowballing problem, and said commissioners slicing health budgets have “blood on their hands”.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show there were 659 alcohol-related deaths in this region in 2016, a rise of 97 on the previous year and more than double the number from 1994 when there were 280 deaths.

Tony Kimber, chief executive of Focus 12, a rehab in Bury St Edmunds, said fewer people with alcohol problems were getting early intervention and therefore developing “untreatable” illnesses because health funding had been “squeezed”.

He added: “I think more fundamentally that alcohol is so freely available, it’s socially acceptable. We have a drinking culture which does look at non-drinkers as kind of strange. If you look at the legislation with tobacco it’s been really successful in reducing the number of smokers and smoking-related deaths and maybe we should look at doing the same thing with alcohol.”

Brian Tobin, chief executive of Iceni Ipswich. Picture: LUCY TAYLORBrian Tobin, chief executive of Iceni Ipswich. Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

Brian Tobin, chief executive of addiction support charity Iceni Ipswich, said drug-related deaths were also increasing.

“We have never been so busy in 20 years,” he added. “It’s tough out there at the minute for many people. We have had austerity for five/six years and we are starting to see the fall out for families.”

Mr Tobin said commissioners who had allowed the “brutal cuts” in rehabilitation services had “blood on their hands” over these deaths.

He added: “It’s scandalous that people are dying and no one seems to care.”

Tony Goldson, head of health at Suffolk County Council. Picture: LUCY TAYLORTony Goldson, head of health at Suffolk County Council. Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

Mike Gogarty, director for public health and communities at Essex County Council, said the increase was “a worry” and assured the authority would do “everything we can to support those affected by alcohol misuse”.

Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for health, Tony Goldson, said: “Excessive alcohol consumption is a major cause of preventable premature death and we work with key partners and treatment providers to monitor any increase in the harm associated with this and provide support in a number of ways.”


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Bury Mercury visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Bury Mercury staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Bury Mercury account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Other popular content

Yesterday, 21:59

Jewellery and cash were snatched from a home as burglars smashed their way into a property.

Yesterday, 18:35

A nurse has told an inquest into the death of a 79-year-old woman at a Suffolk hospital that the ward where the patient fell was not safe because of a staff shortage.

Yesterday, 16:54

A project which is thought to be the first of its kind in the UK will see students get first hand experience of the construction industry, without having to leave the comfort of their college campus.

Yesterday, 15:47

A night shelter for the homeless in west Suffolk will not be opened over the winter months, the council has revealed.

Local weather

Sunshine and Showers

Sunshine and Showers

max temp: 6°C

min temp: 3°C

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists

Newsletter Sign Up

Bury Mercury weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

MyDate24 MyPhotos24