Political nystagmusBMJ 2010; 341 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.c5325 (Published 22 October 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c5325
- Omair S Niaz, consultant psychiatrist1,
- Sumairah S Niaz, optometrist and final year medical student2
The significant rise in alcohol related hospital admissions in England between 2004 and 2009 is exactly what most health professionals were expecting after the implementation of the Licensing Act 2003 in November 2005.1 2 However, the concerns about extending licensing hours fell on deaf ears.
Government policy has for some time lacked consistency and clear direction as exemplified by the Licensing Act. Extension of licensing hours was pursued in England and Wales despite international research showing the association between liberalisation of licensing laws and increased alcohol related problems. However, it is still not too late to draw on the experiences of other countries. In Iceland, for example, a trial of unrestricted serving hours was abandoned within two years because of the adverse consequences.3
Given the current economic climate of proposed dramatic cuts across the public sector (which bears the brunt of managing alcohol related harm), government policy needs to be urgently reviewed. Indeed, the Home Office recently concluded a consultation on rebalancing the licensing act,4 but does it go far enough? We agree with the call for a review of alcohol pricing, but the availability of alcohol must also be restricted.1 2
Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c5325
Competing interests: None declared.