It used to be said that York had a pub for every day of the year. In fact, taking shops and restaurants into account, the city has got a whopping 799 licensed premises – that’s two a day plus a couple of months extra for free.

Most people drink responsibly in York, but there is growing evidence that our city has a booze problem.

Alcohol profiles published by Public Health England show York is ‘significantly worse’ than the national average when it comes to binge drinking (defined as more than eight units for men and more than six for women).

Although we are significantly better than the national average in alcohol-specific hospital admissions, one in ten people attending A&E in York is there as a result of an alcohol-related injury.

And, when compared to areas with similar levels of deprivation, York actually has higher rates of alcohol-related hospital admittance.

Councillor Carol Runciman, chair of York’s Health & Wellbeing Board, said:

There are considerable issues to be faced due to the way York is seen as a stag and hen destination as well as considerable problems with alcohol misuse within our communities.

We would like to influence more people to be aware of how to drink responsibly and to make positive lifestyle choices around alcohol so that individuals use alcohol safely and sensibly.

Lagging behind

Too many hen parties?

Is York’s reputation as a party city having a detrimental effect on its health?

It’s a similar picture when it comes to crime. York rates better than the national benchmark overall for alcohol-related crime. But it has more alcohol-related sexual offences than similar areas.

So, what about treatment? Again, York is lagging behind other cities.

We have one of the highest proportions of people waiting more than three weeks for alcohol treatment – and one of the lowest ratings for programme completion at just 31%.

Sobering up

As a result of these worrying trends, City of York Council is developing a strategy to improve York’s relationship with alcohol.

It’s working on four key areas of community life.

1. Health
It wants to improve access to early support and provide a range of effective services to reduce hospital admissions, avoidable deaths and preventable diseases linked to alcohol.

2. Safety
Measures are already in place to tackle issues on the streets, including alcohol restriction zones, cumulative impact zones and licensing policy requirements.

To reduce alcohol misuse within the home and at work, the council will encourage alternative activities – including festivals – not focussed on alcohol.

3. Personal responsibility
The strategy aims to improve social awareness by encouraging informed, positive choices regarding alcohol on both an individual and community level.

This will involve the development of ‘city community champions’ to promote personal responsibility.

4. Alcohol data collection
The council plans to strengthen the city’s data collection capabilities and to share information more effectively between a wide range of local stakeholders.

The council wants to here your views about the planned alcohol strategy. Find out more and give your views here before August 29.

 

Isabelle Scott

Isabelle Scott

Isabelle Scott is a literature graduate from the University of York. She is the former editor in chief of the university creative writing anthology, The Looking Glass, and is currently learning Mandarin Chinese