PUBLICIANS believe they are doing their bit to combat binge drinking and blame cheap deals at supermarkets for south Essex’s alarming drink related hospital admissions.

More than 12,400 people were admitted to Southend and Basildon hospitals last year due to long-term alcohol abuse.

The Department of Health statistics show admissions were up at both hospitals for conditions like alcohol poisoning and liver disease.

Simon Patterson, owner of Chinnery’s, on the seafront, and chairman of Southend Pub and Clubwatch, which represents 32 licensees across the town centre, said measures have been taken to fight the problems.

He said: “Two years ago, we had a consensus in the watch to charge nothing less than £1.50 for a drink to try to stop bingeing.

“It works quite well, as there are no inclusive deals. They’ve all gone from our members’ premises, but you can’t stop people going to supermarkets.

“Pubs and clubs are doing their bit to make it a better place and it’s time supermarkets did the same.

“People also have to understand they have a duty of care for themselves.”

Many establishments in Southend are taking precautions, such as training staff to spot potential risks before they become a problem.

Ben Levy, owner of Element nightclub in Alexandra Street, said: “Our staff are all trained not to serve anyone who seems intoxicated and to closely monitor those who are.

“We do not do special drinks promotions because not only do people get too drunk, but they also end up spending less per-head than if the drinks were normal price.”

The Cornucopia pub, in Marine Parade, also works to maintain a family atmosphere to put off binge- drinkers and troublemakers.

Michael Stewart, a barman at the pub, said: “We enforce a dress code and customers have to be able to hold themselves up.

“We can tell instantly if they have had too much to drink then and we will refuse service.

“As a result, we don’t have have too many issues when it comes to people getting intoxicated.”

Other bars in Southend have changed their ways after suffering the effects of cheap drinks.

Henry Burgess, joint-owner of the Sun Rooms, in Market Place, said: “We used to do cheap shots, but the place went doolaly and we had to get more door staff to deal with it.

“We have learnt from experience that selling drinks too cheaply can be bad for a bar.

“We don’t want customers to stay away because they think trouble will kick off.”