A HEALTH trust is sending staff into hospital to battle binge drinking.

An alcohol liaison nurse and a health worker are to be stationed at Colchester General Hospital to deal with people admitted with alcohol-related illnesses.

NHS North East Essex said it had created the posts after an increasing number of drink-linked admissions.

Between April and June last year, the admission rate for alcohol-related illnesses was 320 per 100,000 people. This rose to 343 per 100,000 between October and December.

The nurse will help in-patients with drink-associated conditions, while the health worker will issue advice in A&E.

The trust is also extending the role of an alcohol health trainer from one to four days a week.

Emma Bishton, senior public health specialist at NHS North East Essex, said: “Alcohol is the UK’s third highest risk factor for ill-health behind smoking and high blood pressure. Effects include liver disease, hypertension and increased risk of certain cancers and heart disease."

She added: “Focusing on intervention and prevention is essential. We have invested substantially in a range of initiatives in the past couple of years to tackle this rising problem.

“The posts we are supporting are designed to target people in the earliest stages of excess consumption and are key to reversing alcohol-related admissions.”

The NHS advises men should not regularly drink more than three to four units of alcohol a day, equivalent to a pint and a half of beer, and women two to three units, equivalent to a 175ml glass of wine. It says everyone should have at least two alcohol-free days a week.

The latest annual figures, for 2008/09, show 3,950 people treated at Colchester and Tendring hospitals for illnesses or injuries related to drink – 5.5 per cent of admissions.