Sir Oliver Heald MP vows to tackle alcohol harm

Sir Oliver meeting Alcohol Health Alliance UK at Conservative Party Conference

Sir Oliver Heald MP spoke to members of the Alcohol Health Alliance UK at the Conservative Party Conference about the impact of alcohol harm in his community. The MP for North East Hertfordshire learned that there are an estimated 6,818 alcohol-related hospital admissions and 138 alcohol-related deaths annually in the districts of East and North Hertfordshire, and the Borough of Stevenage.[1] 

Moreover, 24% of adults are drinking above the Chief Medical Officers’ guidelines of less than 14 units a week in the East of England.[2] This puts them at a higher risk of health problems linked to alcohol, including seven types of cancer, stroke and dementia. At the same time, only 20% dependent drinkers in England are receiving the support they need.

Sir Oliver Heald MP said:  “Harmful alcohol consumption is impacting individuals, families and communities in many ways. My most vulnerable constituents are among the worst affected and we need to support them with measures aimed at reducing alcohol harm and tackling health inequalities.”

“It concerns me that many people in my constituency are drinking above the Chief Medical Officers’ low-risk weekly guidelines. The worrying fact is that alcohol increases the risk of a wide range of health conditions, including cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and dementia. People have a right to know what they are consuming and we need to make them more aware of the health risks associated with alcohol.”

Alcohol harm currently costs NHS England £3.5 billion every year[3] with the total societal costs of alcohol estimated at around £21 billion annually.[4] In England, alcohol has become the leading risk factor for death, ill-health, and disability for those aged 15-49.[5] Between 2012 and 2017, alcohol-specific deaths have risen by 10% in the UK.[6]

Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, Chair of the AHA, said: “Alcohol continues to cause immense harm to our communities and puts considerable pressure on the NHS and other public services. We urgently need to introduce targeted, evidence-based policies to tackle this harm. The World Health Organisation’s evidence shows that the most effective policies to reduce alcohol harm are those that address its affordability, promotion and availability. We are urging the government to act now and to publish a comprehensive Alcohol Strategy that addresses these issues.”


Notes to the Editor About the Alcohol Health Alliance UK

The Alcohol Health Alliance UK (AHA) is a coalition of 50 health and alcohol organisations who share a common interest in reducing alcohol-related harm, and who campaign for evidence-based policies to reduce this harm. Members include medical royal colleges, charities, patient representatives and alcohol health campaigners. For more information, please visit:

[1] PHE (2019), Local Alcohol Profiles for England.

[2] As above.

[3] Home Office Impact Assessment (2012), A minimum unit price for alcohol.

[4] Home Office Impact Assessment (2012), A minimum unit price for alcohol.

[5] PHE (2015) The Public Health Burden of Alcohol and the Effectiveness and Cost-Effectiveness of Alcohol Control Policies An evidence review.

[6] ONS (2018) Alcohol-specific deaths in the UK: registered in 2017.