HEDS is part of the School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR) at the University of Sheffield. We undertake research, teaching, training and consultancy on all aspects of health related decision science, with a particular emphasis on health economics, HTA and evidence synthesis.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

HEDS contributes to new report on liver disease and alcohol consumption

A new report published by the Foundation for Liver Research and endorsed by the Lancet Commission on Liver Disease includes new estimates from the Sheffield Alcohol Research Group (SARG) (which contains members of HEDS) of the burden that alcohol places on the NHS and society. The report was featured on the front page of the Guardian newspaper on Monday 24th July, 2017.

The figures used in the report come from the Sheffield Alcohol Policy Model, a complex behavioural and epidemiological simulation model which combines data on patterns of alcohol consumption and purchasing, current rates of harm for 43 different alcohol-related health conditions, evidence on the relationship between prices and purchasing, and epidemiological evidence on the links between drinking at different levels and risks of harm.

The numbers show that alcohol is estimated to cause 35 deaths and 2.300 hospital admissions a day in England, and over the next 5 years this will cost the NHS almost £17billion at a time when healthcare resources and budgets are already being stretched. This research also highlights the potential for policies such as a Minimum Unit Price for alcohol to reduce this burden.

Image of alcohol deaths graph
Estimated deaths attributable to alcohol over next 5 years
This report comes out just as the UK Supreme Court is hearing the final stage in a lengthy court battle between the Scottish Government and the Scotch Whisky Association about the legality of Scotland's efforts to introduce a Minimum Unit Price for alcohol.

Evidence from SARG and the Sheffield Model has formed an integral part of the court case, highlighting that the policy would effectively target the heaviest drinkers and have a positive effect on socioeconomic inequalities in health. The court's judgement is expected to be delivered in the Autumn, with a host of other countries, including Wales and Ireland, looking on. Both countries have announced their intention to introduce a Minimum Unit price, supported by SARG modelling, however this seems certain to be conditional on the Supreme Court ruling that the policy is not in breach of EU law.

The report can be viewed here

Guardian article featuring SARG's work.