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NHS ‘shouldn’t pay’ for alcohol treatment

The majority of British people think the National Health Service should refuse to treat patients with alcohol addiction problems free-of-charge.

The survey showed people are unsympathetic to the idea of the taxpayer funding the treatment of those with alcohol addiction issues (Photo: Wiki)
The survey showed people are unsympathetic to the idea of the taxpayer funding the treatment of those with alcohol addiction issues (Photo: Wiki)

As many as 84% of people argue that the £136 million spent annually on alcohol and drug addiction services should be at least in part covered by those who use them.

That leaves just 16% of people who think that such services should remain free at the point of use – a founding principle of the NHS.

British people are similarly uncompromising when it comes to more serious treatment, such as full liver transplants for those who have damaged theirs through heavy drinking.

Just under half of the 4000 respondents (48%) to the Benenden Health Report 2015 survey believe that transplants should still be available for free on the NHS for these patients.

A further 23% believed patients with alcohol issues should contribute to the cost, while 9% said that there should be absolutely no liver transplants for people with drinking problems. That leaves just 20% saying that transplants should remain free, whatever the cause.

Around 236 liver transplants are carried out each year as a result of alcohol abuse, at a cost of roughly £70,000 each. When surveyed, people vastly underestimated the cost of a liver transplant, with the average estimate being around just £12,000.

Commenting on the research, Dr John Miles of Benenden said, “Whilst in many cases people will fall ill or need the help of the NHS through no fault of our own, there are also instances where poor lifestyle choices can contribute heavily to causing illness.”

“It’s now time to take action. To start taking some real responsibility for our own health. This means taking time to learn about good nutrition, the benefits of responsible drinking and understanding that there’s more to life than how good we look in our Facebook profile picture,” he said.

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