SWINDON has seen big rise in hospital admissions caused by alcohol-related liver disease over the past five years.

The latest data from Public Health England shows that the rate has gone up to 33 patients admitted for every 100,000 people between April 2016 and March 2017 - 51 per cent higher than five years earlier.

A spokesperson for Public Health England said: “Liver disease is one of the top causes of death in England and people are dying from it at younger ages.

“Most liver disease is preventable, and much is influenced by alcohol consumption and obesity prevalence.”

The data shows that men are twice as likely as women to receive hospital treatment for the illness across the country.

In 2014, the Lancet Commission on alcohol-related liver diseases estimated that health problems caused by alcohol are costing the NHS £3.5 billion a year.

Liver researchers at the Institute of Hepatology, based in London, said the figures are horrifying and called on the government to set a minimum price per unit of alcohol to discourage drinking.

Professor Roger Williams, director of the Institute of Hepatology, proposed setting a minimum price per unit of alcohol to curb drinking.

“Liver disease mortality rates have increased about 600 per cent in the last 50 years. That happens because alcohol consumption among the population has increased and this is linked to the fact that the costs of alcoholic drinks proportionally have fallen.

“Setting a minimum alcohol price is a highly effective way of dealing with the problem. In Canada, they had a 14 per cent drop in emergency admissions and eight per cent drop in mortality in the first 12 months after setting this minimum.”

Scotland adopted this measure in May, setting a 50p minimum price per unit of alcohol. The Welsh government is planning to implement the same lowest price next summer.

A Swindon Borough Council spokesman said: “Drinking alcohol to excess comes with many health risks. In Swindon, we are still below the national average rate for hospital admissions due to alcohol-related liver disease, and as a Council we take our public health responsibilities very seriously indeed. If anybody in Swindon needs help to tackle alcohol problems, they are encouraged to visit the Turning Point website at wellbeing.turning-point.co.uk/swindon-and-wiltshire or call them on 0345 603 6993.’’