Home > Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 189 - Substance misuse [Alcohol costing] [38890/15].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 189 - Substance misuse [Alcohol costing] [38890/15]. (05 Nov 2015)

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189. Deputy Jerry Buttimer asked the Minister for Health the cost of bed days lost to alcohol-related illness in each of the past ten years; the overall economic cost to the health system for alcohol-related illness; the number and cost of emergency department attendances for alcohol-related illness; when he will introduce minimum unit pricing legislation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38890/15]


Minister for Health (Deputy Leo Varadkar): The provision of services to treat alcohol-related illness is the responsibility of the Health Service Executive and as such, I have referred this element of the question to the Health Service Executive for attention and direct reply. If the Deputy has not received a reply from the HSE within 15 working days, please contact my Private Office who will follow up the matter with them.


The Report of the National Substance Misuse Steering Group, 2012 reported that alcohol is associated with 2,000 beds being occupied every night in Irish acute hospitals, one quarter of injuries presenting to emergency departments and over half of attendances to specialised addition centres. The report further noted that the harms caused by the misuse of alcohol were estimated to cost the Exchequer €3.7 billion euros in 2007, with alcohol-related illness costing the healthcare system €1.2 billion. The figure is taken from the report, "Costs to Society of Problem Alcohol Use in Ireland", 2011. The estimate is based on the methods used in similar reports from other developed countries including the United Kingdom and used data from surveys and surveillance systems. The costs are broken down as follows:



€ million

% of Total Cost

Cost to the healthcare system of alcohol-related illnesses



Cost of alcohol-related crime



Cost of alcohol-related road accidents



Cost of output lost due to alcohol-related absence from work



Cost of alcohol-related accidents at work



Cost of alcohol-related suicides



Cost of alcohol-related premature mortality






I hope the above clarifies the cost of financial resources spent.


The General Scheme of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill was approved by Government on the 3 February 2015. The Scheme includes provisions for minimum unit pricing, health labelling on products that contain alcohol, restrictions on the advertising and marketing of alcohol and the regulation of sports sponsorship. The Public Health (Alcohol) Bill will also provide for the making of regulations to restrict promotions including price based promotions. As part of the pre-legislative scrutiny process, the measures were debated in detail by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children. The JOCH report was published in June 2015. The Department of Health is continuing to work on the preparation of the legislation. The Bill is due to be published shortly.

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