CONCERNS have been raised over a sharp rise in the number of people admitted to hospital with brain damage caused by alcohol abuse.

Latest figures for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, which covers Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire, show there were 230 people with at least one hospital admission due to alcohol-related brain damage last year.

This represents an increase of more than 20 per cent from the total of 189 cases recorded in the area during 2007/08.

The figures were released following a parliamentary question by shadow health secretary Miles Briggs, who said they are the latest indication of the “complex and deep-rooted” battle with alcohol being fought by many people in our communities.

Alcohol is blamed for killing 22 Scots a week, with those in deprived areas considerably more likely to die than their wealthier counterparts.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde had more admissions requiring treatment for alcohol-related brain damage last year than any other health board in Scotland.

Mr Briggs said: “It’s worrying that these statistics continue to rise and means more people are having their lives badly impacted by drinking too much alcohol.

“Scotland already has one of the worst records in Europe for alcohol consumption and, despite increased awareness, the problem only seems to be getting worse.

“The SNP government has finally managed to introduce minimum pricing but it’s clear far more will be required if we are to make any meaningful difference.

“The SNP has been in power since 2007 and, in that time, more people have been admitted to hospital with this problem.

“Health is an entirely devolved issue and, therefore, we need to see ministers taking full responsibility for this worsening situation.”

Mr Briggs, of the Scottish Conservatives, also slammed a decision by SNP ministers to cut funding for alcohol and drug partnerships, saying that this has “clearly impacted on the delivery of services to support people addicted to alcohol.”

He added: “The Scottish Conservatives want to see more emphasis put on recovery programmes, for pilot projects to be brought forward to investigate new and innovative treatments and for more support for the family members and communities trying to help out vulnerable individuals with alcohol dependency.”

Responding to Mr Briggs, minister for public health, sport and wellbeing Joe Fitzpatrick said: “The Scottish Government provides funding to NHS boards to work with integration authorities to provide services that meet the health needs of the local population, including people with alcohol-related brain injury.

“We expect alcohol services, mental health services and social services to work jointly and in a holistic way, so that people with alcohol-related brain injuries receive the help they need to recover and any underlying mental health issues are addressed.”


Experts at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde admit that reducing excessive consumption of alcohol is one of the area’s most significant public health challenges.

However, they have also stressed that the effects of alcohol-related brain disorder/damage (ARBD) can often be reversed if patients receive the right treatment and support.

A spokesperson for the health board said: “The effects of alcohol misuse not only damage an individual’s health but have a devastating impact on families and communities.

“ARBD is the term used to describe a number of serious medical conditions where the function of the brain is impaired as a result of prolonged alcohol misuse.

These include Wernicke-Korsakoff’s syndrome, alcohol related dementia, and amnesic syndrome.

The West of Scotland has the highest rate of Korsakoff’s in Western Europe and has historically been most prevalent in males over the age of 50.

The effects of ARBD can often be reversed if patients receive the right treatment and support.

“We work jointly with a number of key partners to tackle over-consumption of alcohol.

“We’re particularly focused on prevention and early intervention for those at risk of misusing alcohol, in addition to treatment and support for people who already have significant alcohol-related health problems.”

We delivered 15,000 Alcohol Brief Interventions (ABIs) during 2017-18. These were carried out across primary and acute care as well as a range of community settings including prisons and voluntary sector projects.

In addition, we are further involved in a comprehensive range of alcohol and drugs prevention programmes in place in settings including communities and schools. These prevention programmes are designed to provide a more integrated response to drugs and alcohol and related harm for children and young people.