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Health Select Committee Report19 July 2012
The Commons Select Committee has today published its report following the Health Committee’s inquiry into the Government Alcohol Strategy, issued on the 23rd March 2012.
The Report runs to 118 paragraphs and is a detailed examination of the Strategy, particularly looking at whether the proposals are likely to have the effect the Government is seeking, whether the matters it is aiming to address are the most appropriate ones, looking at the issues from a health perspective and considering what measures might counteract the harm that alcohol causes.
The full Report can be accessed here - 'Health Committee - third report'.
The Report tries to define the problem arising from alcohol consumption and focuses on the impact of alcohol in respect of the Nations health and does not simply follow the familiar media line regarding issues of crime and disorder.
The report cites the evidence provided to it by the expert witnesses and adopts a view at Paragraph 21 that:
“The main focus of the strategy is the need to address public order issues. We agree that these are important, but we believe that the health impact of the misuse of alcohol is more insidious and pervasive; the remainder of this report therefore focuses on ways in which those harms to health can be addressed”.
This conclusion was supported by the evidence of Sir Ian Gilmore of the Royal College of Physicians, who stated that within the Liverpool Primary Care Trust, data showed that 90% of Hospital admissions relating to alcohol were for chronic conditions and not from “people falling over in
The Report raises various questions, in particular how consumers can make informed choices as to the amount they consume and that they have to be able to answer the all important question as to what is a safe level of consumption.
The Report questions the benefit of minimum unit pricing and for the first time, there is a suggested recommendation of a sunset clause, so that the impact of the policy can be assessed and that adjustments to the minimum price can be made going forward.
In conjunction with minimum pricing, the Report considers the impact of banning multi-buy promotions and the potential impact of the ‘Responsibility Deal’.
The Report considers the marketing of alcohol and the benefit of the Drinkaware Campaigns and overall contemplates a holistic approach to alcohol abuse at both National and Local levels, the latter point being evidenced by the success which has been achieved by Birmingham City Council’s Health and Wellbeing Board in reducing NHS patients waiting lists for specialist alcohol services to nil and the establishment of two Business Improvement Districts.The Committee concludes that during their inquiry they identified that there were many different considerations to be taken into account, some of which were in conflict with each other.