Thousands of people in the Swindon area are admitted to hospital every year with health conditions caused by drinking too much alcohol.

This number has rocketed from 3,240 in 2012/13 to 4,930 in 2018/19 – a 40 per cent increase over six years.

These shocking figures are part of a region-wide crisis, topped only by a 41 per cent rise in North Somerset and a 50 per cent rise in South Gloucestershire.

The statistics count hospital admissions where the primary reason or a secondary diagnosis was related to alcohol, such as liver disease, cardiovascular disease, breast cancer and alcohol poisoning.

Sharon Johnson is the landlady of the Goldfinger in Highworth. She said: “I’m shocked that the figure has gone up so much but pubs do have a bit of accountability for this.

“Some of them sell a lot of cheap low-end spirits and shots so people get carried away and drink in excess, then fights break out and trouble starts. Yes you get more for your money, but drinking that much that fast makes a big difference.

“If it’s cheap, people will drink it, even if the vodka tastes like paint stripper, and some places take advantage of that and it causes problems. We never do deals on spirits or shots here because I think it’s irresponsible.”

The UK Addiction Treatment Group released its analysis of NHS data in a bid to draw attention to the country’s growing problem of alcohol misuse.

The addiction firm warned that hospitals are “crippling under pressure” from the number of patients who are drinking to excess and argued that more needs to be done to tackle the problem.

Group treatment lead Nuno Albuquerque said: “The problem with alcohol in this country is a ticking timebomb about to explode. NHS hospitals, in particular those across the south west, are crippling under pressures directly attributable to the misuse of alcohol – a drug that is so socially accepted yet so incredibly dangerous.”

The number of admissions for liver disease caused by excessive alcohol consumption reached a record high of 105 in Swindon in 2018/19, with a rate of 50 admissions per 100,000 population.

Not only is this rate double that of the figure recorded in 2010/11, it’s higher than the regional average of 44 admissions per 100,000 people.

Alcohol is the most common cause of liver disease in England – and the number of people with the condition has risen over the past few decades.

People with the disease are often unaware of it until their liver has been severely damaged, when more serious symptoms such as yellowing skin, abdominal swelling and severe weight loss can develop.

A Swindon Borough Council spokesman said: “While we are concerned about any rise in hospital admissions, it is important to note that a significant number were re-admissions, which means we have a group of people who are finding it more difficult to accept the help and support we offer.

“However, we know that more people are now accessing treatment, which means that more people are getting the support they need, and we know this has a positive impact on their lives, including their relationships with other family members, particularly where they have children.

"As part of that support, the council commissioned a Substance Misuse Liaison team based at the Great Western Hospital to provide help to people admitted due to alcohol misuse.

"The team is able to intervene where necessary and engage patients in treatment as required.

“Alongside this, the council’s two-year Restore programme works to reduce the harm to children of alcohol-dependent parents. The programme involves providing practical and therapeutic support to all members of the family, as well as helping parents to improve their relationships with family members following recovery from alcohol misuse.

"We would encourage people who need it to find out more about the Restore project by calling 01793 466903.”

Plymouth is the only area across the south west to have reduced the number of alcohol-related hospital admissions over the last six years. Great Western Hospital would not comment on the figures. The Avon & Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership Trust could not provide a comment.


The UK Addiction Treatment Group revealed six drinking patterns and symptoms that suggest someone may have a drinking problem, then advised anyone who recognised these symptoms in their own behaviour to seek medical professional help.

These include: drinking regularly in the daytime, drinking to excess or to blacking out, feeling numbness and tingling in the hands and feet, a lack of or increased appetite leading to a considerable weight loss or gain, drinking to relax or feel better or before stressful situations, and noticing redness around the eyes, nose and face.