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More elderly drinkers in hospital

There has been a dramatic increase in the number of pensioners admitted to hospital because of alcohol in the past four years, figures have shown.

Data from the Department of Health show that there were around 320,000 alcohol-related hospital admissions in 2006/07, up more than 100,000 on the 2002/03 figure of just under 200,000.

The government has now been called on to stem the "deeply worrying" rise by increasing funding to alcohol treatment services.

Tom Brake, Lib Dem MP for Carshalton and Wallington, said: "While newspaper headlines have focused on binge-drinking teenagers, the number of elderly people being hospitalised due to alcohol have been soaring unnoticed.

"These figures are deeply worrying, and ministers must take action to tackle this new and disturbing trend.

"The government has massively under-funded alcohol treatment services, while this problem has been allowed to escalate."

A Department of Health spokesman said the levels of alcohol-related crime and hospital admissions were "unacceptable", while pledging to tackle the culture that surrounded excessive drinking.

"We want to tackle these problems in a way that doesn't unfairly punish the majority who drink responsibly," he said.

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Department of Health