New data released this month by Alcohol Concern revealed a quarter (26%) of MPs believe there is an unhealthy drinking culture in Parliament. The Charity is using the survey to warn employers across the country that they are likely to face similar levels of unhealthy drinking in their own workplaces, and are urging them to act accordingly.
The survey of 150 MPs’ attitudes to alcohol also uncovered limited awareness of both the harm to health caused by alcohol misuse and the lack of available treatment services, which is also likely to be representative of other workplaces in the UK.
The research showed:
- Two thirds (60%) of MPs say that they would be surprised to learn that the average age of death from liver disease is 25 years younger than the average age of death from heart disease, stroke or lung disease
- Over half the MPs surveyed (55%) say that they would be surprised to hear that fewer than 6% of people with alcohol dependence receive treatment for alcohol dependence
Following the publication of these findings, Alcohol Concern has renewed its call for MPs to lead by example and change their attitudes towards alcohol and is also encouraging employers to become more aware of the dangers of workplace drinking.
Lauren Booker, Workplace Programme Manager for Alcohol Concern comments: “We know that employers identify alcohol as a major threat to employee wellbeing but the majority do not have an alcohol policy in place. Often, employers do want to be responsible and support their staff, but knowing where to start can be a daunting prospect. The key is to work proactively rather than reactively, starting with an open and frank discussion about alcohol as the basis for an effective alcohol policy.”
Commenting on the survey, Dr Emily Finch, Clinical Director, Addictions CAG, South London & Maudsley NHS Trust added: “This research clearly points to the fact that MPs like the rest of the population, underestimate the health risks related to regular and continued mis-use of alcohol. It’s imperative that those who are setting the agenda in terms of policy are better informed, as only then will attitudes change; and only then will we improve treatment rates for alcohol dependency beyond the current 6%.”
Alcohol Concern partnered with pharmaceutical company Lundbeck Ltd to commission and communicate the findings of the survey. Within the guidance of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry code of practice, Lundbeck provided Alcohol Concern with project management support from communications consultancy Munro & Forster and funding for the survey.