Binge drinking under-18s see surge in hospital admissions

The number of children drinking themselves into hospital has risen by more than a third since 2001, official figures show.

There has been a 35 per cent rise in the number of under-18s admitted to A&E after binge drinking, parliamentary questions by the Liberal Democrats revealed.

And the blanket figure masks “alarming regional differences,” the Liberal Democrats claim, with an 80 per cent rise recorded in London and the south-west.

The figures include children with alcohol poisoning after binge drinking, as well as those with alcoholic liver disease and mental and behavioural disorders related to drinking.

Lib Dem health spokesman Norman Lamb argued more needed to be done to establish why children are drinking so much and why this varies around the country.

He said: “Gordon Brown talks about health prevention being important, but what is he doing to tackle the shocking rise in binge drinking amongst our young people?

“This is a dangerously escalating public health crisis with often tragic consequences.”

Mr Lamb continued: “As well as being illegal, it is grossly irresponsible for pubs and shops to sell alcohol to underage young people.

“Existing laws in this area need to be enforced and we must also look at the sale of cheap alcohol in supermarkets which contributes to the problem.”

Last week the home secretary announced a new crackdown on underage drinking, promising stricter enforcement of existing laws and more measures to hold parents responsible for their children’s behaviour.