‘Youngsters under pressure to drink excessively’

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CHILDREN as young as 11 have been rushed to A&E in Sheffield after consuming alcohol and other drugs.

Sheffield Children’s Hospital saw 172 children aged between 11 and 15 who had ingested drugs including alcohol over three years between November 2008 and October last year.

Of those who visited the emergency department, 79 were aged 15, 50 were 14, 33 were 13, seven were 12 and three were just 11 years old.

Some 39 were admitted to the hospital for further treatment.

Derek Burke, medical director at the hospital, said the number of children coming to A&E drunk was very low.

“Those who do come in under the influence of alcohol, around one a week, tend to be older teenagers, and we always speak with their parents and offer advice about the dangers of alcohol misuse,” he said.

Sheffield Alcohol Support Service, which is trying to tackle the problem of youth drinking, has been awarded Comic Relief funding to hire a health worker for three years to target teenagers and families.

Josie Soutar, the service’s chief executive, said: “Drinking is such a large part of our culture that young people are forever under pressure to drink excessively.

“There are some excellent services in the city for young teenagers, and SASS has historically provided help for the more entrenched drinker. However, there was a real lack of support for those during the transition from teenager to adult, those most susceptible to binge drinking.”