A CONCERNED rehab clinic is calling on council bosses to take action to save lives after a record number of alcohol deaths in the area.

The UK Addiction Treatment Group (UKAT), which runs the Sanctuary Lodge rehab clinic in Halstead, has warned “more people will die” if council leaders don’t respond to the latest figures released by Office for National Statistics.

Figures reveal alcohol-specific deaths in 2020 are the highest ever recorded in history for people living across the East of England.

The data shows the alcohol death toll across the East in 2020 stands at 568 – a five per cent rise from 2019, when 543 deaths were recorded.

Analysis also shows the death toll has risen by 50 per cent since records began in 2013. Of those who died in 2020, 349 were male.

The death rate per 100,000 people reached a high of 9.6 in the last quarter of 2020, the second highest since records began.

Nuno Albuquerque, head of treatment for UKAT, said: “We must remember that these aren’t just numbers – these are people’s mothers, fathers, neighbours and friends living across the East who have lost their lives to alcohol, the ramifications of which meant that people had to endure the heartache of losing a loved one to a substance so widely accepted in society in the midst of a global pandemic.

“2020 was an incredibly difficult year so it is saddening but unsurprising to see more people than ever turned to alcohol as a coping strategy, which in these instances caused them to lose their lives.

“Last year we treated more people than we ever have for alcohol addiction in our facilities in Luton and Essex, but these people are lucky because they got the help they needed.”

The Department of Health and Social Care in England says it is giving £3.2billion to local authorities, but UKAT fears the money will “get lost in the system”.

Mr Albuquerque said: “Unfortunately we know that some councils across the East of England spend less and less each year on both the prevention and treatment of alcohol addiction, but today’s figures must act as a slap across the face.

“Council leaders have the power to help in their hands, they just have to choose where to spend the money, and not let money that should be allocated on vital, effective drug and alcohol rehabilitation programmes get lost in the system because if it does, then more people will die.”

24/7 confidential help and support for alcohol misuse can be found at www.ukat.co.uk/alcohol/v90/