A HOSPITAL consultant has welcomed Southend being declared an Alcohol Action Area, but says tougher action is needed.

Dr Gary Bray, consultant gastroenterologist and hepatologist at Southend Hospital, spoke after it was announced the borough was to be one of 20 areas where newmeasures are to be introduced.

These include fighting drinkfuelled crime and disorder and the damage caused to people’s health.

He said: “As someone who sees a lot of liver disease and other alcohol related problems caused by rising alcoholism and consumption of cheap drinks, I find it very concerning.

“Being able to stay in a club, drinking until 4am, must fuel violence and problems.

“I welcome any action which gives local authorities more control.

“I think, however, that expecting big drinks companies to act responsibly is very unlikely, especially as they lobby so consistently in Parliament.

“If the Government was serious about alcohol reduction, it would introduce minimum unit pricing for alcohol, which has been shown to reduce alcohol related deaths in Canada.”

Details on exactly what will be done in each area are still to be finalised.

The Government says authorities in each area will receive support from the Home Office, the Department of Health and Public Health England.

Tony Cox, Southend councillor responsible for public protection said: “Building on our success in securing the Purple Flag award for our safe night-time economy, we’re looking forward to developing new partnerships in order to address alcohol problems in Southend.”

The most recent figures of teenagers treated for binge drinking illnesses at Southend Hospital show they are falling.

In 2010, the number of under-18s treated as inpatients at the hospital was 18. This figure fell to 11 in 2011, and to ten in 2012.

Up to the end of June last year, just three children were seen at the hospital for alcohol-related illnesses.

It does not include the number of young people admitted through A&E who aren’t treated as inpatients.