Alcohol deaths hit highest level in decade – Lanarkshire and Forth Valley communities need urgent help

Deaths caused by alcohol last year reached the highest level In Scotland for more than a decade, prompting Monica Lennon MSP to demand urgent support for people and families affected by problem drinking.

NHS Lanarkshire was one of four health boards with a higher-than-average death rate. The number of deaths in Lanarkshire health board region increased 40 per cent from the previous year (137 to 193 deaths), representing the sharpest rise in Scotland.

NHS Forth Valley saw a 35 per cent increase in alcohol-specific deaths between 2019 and 2020, well above the national increase of 17 per cent.

Responding to the tragic news that 1,190 alcohol-specific deaths had been recorded, Monica said; “Behind these tragic statistics are real people who deserved access to treatment and support. Alcohol-related deaths are preventable; however, we are sadly seeing a postcode lottery in terms of access to vital healthcare and ongoing support.

“People are being failed by the system when they most need it, and my constituents in Lanarkshire and Forth Valley are paying a heavy price for this. 

“We must look beyond the numbers and recognise that every alcohol-related death is a story of struggle and trauma in the lives of real people and families. Help is simply not reaching those who need it most.

“Charities like ‘Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol and Drugs’ have been inundated with calls during the pandemic, bridging the gap and doing all they can to support people who are struggling to access treatment.

“Scottish Government ministers have been warned repeatedly that failing to properly resource alcohol and drug treatment services puts lives at risk.

“Alcohol misuse is a serious public health emergency in Scotland and on behalf of my constituents in Lanarkshire and Forth Valley, I will be demanding a detailed plan from the Scottish Government. Our local health boards and frontline services must have the right resources to help people access treatment and recovery.”

Notes to editor:

  • Monica Lennon MSP has been a vocal campaigner on alcohol harm, including as Co-Convenor of the Scottish Parliament’s Cross Party Group on Drug and Alcohol Misuse. She has consistently called on the Scottish Government to support people and families affected by alcohol harm, drawing on the death of her father in 2015 and her own lived experience.

National Records of Scotland alcohol-specific deaths statistics: https://www.nrscotland.gov.uk/statistics-and-data/statistics/statistics-by-theme/vital-events/deaths/alcohol-deaths