Significantly worse than the national average. . .

ONE in five people in Southampton is drinking alcohol at “hazardous levels”, new figures reveal.

Every week around a fifth of the city’s population – some 50,000 people – down more booze than the recommended guidelines.

Increasingly women are exceeding more than their recommended maximum 14 units a week, equivalent to seven medium glasses of wine, and men are downing more than their weekly 21 alcohol units, the same as around ten pints of beer.

Doctors, nurses and police are left to pick up the tab with the city recording significantly more cases of binge drinking and alcohol related hospital admissions than the national average.

‘Failure’ Now one of Southampton’s top public health officials has admitted the city is failing to get to grips with its drinking habits.

Carole Binns has called for a greater focus on preventing alcohol abuse happening in the first place by spending more on public health information campaigns, and training teachers, GPs and criminal justice workers to identify problems early on.

She presented the shocking figures to a Commons Health Select Committee which heard that Southampton performed “significantly worse” than the national average for binge drinking, alcohol related deaths and alcohol related hospital admissions for under 18s and men.

Ms Binns also said that the city had a higher level of alcohol related recorded crime and alcohol related sexual offences. A survey last year declared Southampton the third worst city in the country for alcohol related violence, behind Kingston upon Hull in Yorkshire and London.

The Commissioning Service Manager said local alcohol services currently suffered from a “lack co-ordination’’ resulting in “duplication’’ of support, forcing those with problems to suffer delays in getting help.

She said the city spent much more money on dealing with the effects of alcohol (about £3.2m in 2007/8) than it did on prevention (£949,000).

Earlier this year The Daily Echo revealed that 84 people were taken to Southampton General with alcohol poisoning in 2007/08.

During the same year there were 946 liver admissions – with more than 90 per cent of those due to alcohol.

Drunk children More drunk children are ending up in Southampton’s emergency department than ever before too as alcohol-related admissions continue to rise.

Latest figures show that last year alone 103 boozy kids were admitted. A survey also found alcohol was responsible for seven out of every ten people admitted to the emergency department on Friday and Saturday nights.

The Daily Echo’s Keep Kids Sober campaign was launched in October 2006 to encourage adults and parents to take a more active and responsible role in teaching children about the consequences of alcohol.