Public Health England (PHE) have published a document reporting on responses to the consultation on measuring alcohol-related admissions to hospital. It has also announced a new key measure of alcohol admissions, which will only include 'attributable fractions' in a more restricted way.
The new key measure will include primary diagnoses, plus mentions of alcohol-related external causes in secondary diagnosis fields as the Public Health Outcomes Framework (PHOF) alcohol measure. 'External causes' include alcohol-related accidents, injuries, assaults and self-harm, but the headline measure will not account for the full range of possible conditions given 'attributable fractions' currently identified in any related secondary admission. However PHE will still publish figures using the full attributable fractions for local areas to access.
The key measure is likely to bring future annual headline figures at under 300,000 - way down from recent annual headline figures of well over one million. In 2011/12, there were an estimated 1,220,300 admissions including attributable fractions. A number of industry figures welcomed the changes given the one million a year figures generated significant media coverage, described as "those lurid headlines" by one figure. However attributable fractions were generally accepted within the health field as a sound and detailed methodolgy developed by the North West Public Health Observatory.
PHE say the new measure offers a more reliable measure of trends, but also states "the existing measure... should be considered a better measure of the broader impact of alcohol on hospital services".