Norwich residents urged to sign up to scheme to help cut down alcohol intake

The Healthy Norwich campaign is inviting everyone in the city to use a NHS smartphone app which hel

The Healthy Norwich campaign is inviting everyone in the city to use a NHS smartphone app which helps you keep track of your drinking. - Credit: Archant

Health chiefs in Norwich have urged residents to sign up to a new scheme to keep a track of their drinking after it emerged that alcohol-related hospital admissions cost the local NHS more than £4.5m last year.

Officials from the Healthy Norwich campaign have called on people in the city to take part in a summer project to help them cut down on their alcohol intake.

The population of the Norwich area was responsible for more than 3,000 alcohol-related hospital admissions in 2011/12, costing the NHS £4.5m, according to new figures.

Bosses from Healthy Norwich are urging people to download the NHS drinks tracker smartphone app to help them track their intake and gives advice on who to go to help cut down on drinking.

The rate of alcohol-specific conditions in the Norwich Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) area is higher than for the East of England and there are an estimated 4,000 to 6,000 people in the city with signs of alcohol dependence. An estimated 25pc of adults binge drink in Norwich, compared with 17pc for Norfolk, and 20pc for England. It comes as there has been a 40pc increase in the total number of licensed premises and a 67pc increase in the number of off-licenses from 2005 to 2012.

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Martin Phillips, a consultant in hepatology at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, said: 'For a variety of reasons we are drinking far more than previous generations. For many of us it has become a habit to have a drink at the end of a busy day.

'I believe that this is having a significant detrimental effect on the physical and mental health of our nation as well as a major negative social impact. This is an excellent time for us all to consider whether it is time to change our drinking habits. Having a drink – and drinking sensibly – does not need to be a worry for most of us.'

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The NHS recommends that men should not regularly drink more than 3 to 4 units of alcohol a day and women should not regularly drink more than 2 to 3 units a day.

The NHS drinks tracker calculates units in drinks, tracks consumption over weeks or months, and provides personalised feedback on drinking.

Augustine Pereira, consultant in public health at Norfolk County Council, said: 'People can easily underestimate how much they drink each week. Although many people are aware of the general health risks of drinking too much, it never crosses their mind while pouring out that extra drink that it may be causing them harm.'

'This mobile drinks tracker can help individuals keep track of drinking patterns and act as a prompt for giving up on dangerous drinking. If you know a friend or family member who has died or had health problems due to drinking, find out what you can do to avoid that situation yourself.'

For those people who feel they may need further support and help, there are services available for them. Adults can contact the Norfolk Recovery Partnership on 0300 7900 227 and young people can contact The Matthew Project Under 18 Service on 0800 970 4866.

Healthy Norwich is a partnership between NHS Norwich CCG, Norwich City Council, Norfolk and Waveney Public Health and the Norfolk Drug And Alcohol Team.

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