Drinking will kill 210,000 in next 20 years unless we outlaw cheap booze, senior doctors warnNext two decades there see 70,000 avoidable deaths from liver diseaseAnother 140,000 from drink-related strokes, heart attacks, cancer, violence, suicides and accidentsFigures show alcohol-related injuries and illness cost the NHS 2.7 billion a year

Alcohol will cause 210,000 deaths during the next 20 years through illness, violence and accidents, senior doctors warn.

Two of Britain’s foremost alcohol specialists, Professor Ian Gilmore and Dr Nick Sheron, are calling on the Government to act quickly to avert this ‘shameful, preventable loss of life’ by outlawing cheap alcohol.

They have calculated that in the next two decades there will be 70,000 avoidable deaths from liver disease and another 140,000 from drink-related strokes, heart attacks, cancer, violence, suicides and accidents.

Cheap Alcohol on sale in Tesco, UK.

Health cost: Senior doctors want to see the outlawing of cheap alcohol, which can be sold for less than water in some supermarkets

Ministers had hoped that introducing 24-hour drinking laws in 2005 would stop revellers binge-drinking in the run-up to closing time.

But police say that round-the-clock opening, in combination with supermarkets selling some alcohol cheaper than water, has left town centres resembling the Wild West.

Health Service figures show there were 1.2 million hospital admissions related to alcohol last year, which has doubled in just eight years.

In a BBC Panorama programme on Monday, liver specialist Dr Sheron says that liver disease is now the only major cause of death continuing to rise.

He adds: ‘We have adopted the Mediterranean drinking pattern, so people will frequently drink with meals, but we haven’t lost our “feast” drinking pattern, so everyone likes to go out and get caned on a Friday night as well.’

Health warning: Regular drinking could be seriously detrimental to your health according to experts. (File picture)

Warning: Regular drinking could be seriously detrimental to your health, according to experts. (File picture)

He also reveals that half the people
he treats for cirrhosis of the liver are female, reflecting a rise in
alcoholism and binge-drinking among women.

stark warning that cheap alcohol needs to be banned comes days after
the Prime Minister promised to ‘stamp out’ binge drinking by bringing in
a minimum price for alcohol.

Cameron said he wanted to follow Scotland’s proposal to make
supermarkets and pubs charge a minimum of 45p per unit of alcohol.

Writing in the Lancet medical journal, Prof Gilmore, chairman of the UK

cheap booze warning

Battle: Former Number 10 spin doctor Alastair Campbell talks about his combating years of heavy drinking

Alcohol Health Alliance, a group of
health campaigners and medical bodies which aims to tackle alcohol
misuse, said: ‘We are at a potential tipping point in the UK in taking
on the shameful, preventable loss of life caused by alcohol.

‘The peak age for
alcohol-related deaths is in people aged 45-65, and alcohol is a factor
in 26 per cent of deaths in men aged 16-24 years.’

Figures show that alcohol-related injuries and illness cost the NHS 2.7 billion a year. On top of this, a recent Government report estimated that alcohol costs society between 17 billion and 22billion annually as a result of crime, sickness absence, and unemployment.

In the Panorama edition, Alastair Campbell, Labour’s former communications director, talks of his own years of excessive drinking, but also questions whether the relaxation of licensing hours in 2005 contributed to the problem.

He said: ‘I never bought the argument that Britain would suddenly become a continental-style drinking nation.

‘We have always had this tendency to drink to excess.’

Panorama: Britain’s Hidden Alcoholics, is on BBC1 Monday at 8.30pm.