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Portman Group rebuts Royal College of Psychiatrists report

Published:  16 September, 2020

The Portman Group has hit back at a report from the Royal College of Psychiatrists which sparked widespread alarm at the impact of Covid-19 on alcohol consumption.

The report, based on data from Public Health England, suggested that the number of adults drinking at high risk has nearly doubled during the crisis, up from 4.8 million in February to some 8.4 million in August.

In response, John Timothy, chief executive of the Portman Group, said: “Figures from Public Health England show alcohol intake rose for a minority during the lockdown but, crucially it has since fallen back. This is echoed by our own studies.

“Not all increases are a cause for a concern - many people still drink within government low risk guidelines. Nevertheless it is important not to disregard the small minority who may now be drinking to harmful levels. We support targeted measures aimed at giving these people the help they need.”

Only 4% of adults drink at higher risk in England, according to NHS England. In Wales, the figure is 2%.

Around 88% of UK adults are either drinking the same as before the pandemic, drinking less or have stopped drinking altogether, according to YouGov whose surveys underpin the Public Health England data.

Meanwhile, 80% do not exceed the CMO’s recommended guideline of 14 units a week.

The Portman Group also recently criticised a report calling for a range of drastic measures to combat alcohol harm in the UK, including the introduction of minumum unit pricing in England and Wales.