NHS ‘chief nanny’ top doctor warns heavy drinkers not to overdo it on the sherry this Christmas because they are putting too much strain on health service
- Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies called for new taxes to improve health
- She accused heavy drinkers of ‘misusing’ their health during over Christmas
- Prof Davies said 50 per cent of all illness is caused by ‘preventable risks’
- The NHS will spend £300,000 to sponsor drunk tanks over the festive period
Dame Sally Davies accused heavy drinkers of ‘misusing’ their health and putting a strain on the NHS
Heavy drinkers are ‘misusing’ their health and putting major strain on the NHS, the country’s top doctor has warned.
Professor Dame Sally Davies, the chief medical officer, said 50 per cent of all illness is caused by ‘preventable risk’ such as alcohol, obesity, smoking and lack of exercise.
She called for new taxes to make it easy for people to choose healthy food but suggested they also need to take responsibility for their own health when it comes to binge drinking.
She highlighted the fact that the NHS will fund £300,000 of ‘drunk tanks’ over the festive period to relieve pressure on the emergency services and keep intoxicated patients out of A&E.
Dame Sally told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘We all know the NHS is under stress – look, NHS England has had to open up drunk tanks because of how people are misusing their health.’
She brushed off the way she is repeatedly referred to as ‘chief nanny’ when she warns of the dangers of alcohol and junk food.
‘I’d prefer not to be, but with Mary Poppins coming out again, maybe it’s going to be fashionable this Christmas,’ she said.
Since she was appointed chief medical officer in 2010 Dame Sally, 69, has campaigned to influence the nation’s lifestyle, repeatedly urging people to take more exercise, eat more healthily and drink less.
At the same time, she has often cited her own healthy behaviour, saying she runs most mornings and makes herself packed lunches of raw vegetables.
In 2016 she was accused of a nanny state attitude when she told the Commons science and technology committee that women should ‘do as I do’ and think about the risks of breast cancer every time they reach for a glass of wine. Later that year she admitted she had chosen those words poorly.
But in recent days she has again become bullish in her crusade for better public health. Launching a major health report on Thursday, she called for new taxes on junk food to help tackle the obesity crisis.
Prof Davies warned Christmas revellers that they could become a burden on the NHS and suggested the government should consider imposing taxes on harmful products to encourage dramatic lifestyle changes
She said voluntary agreements with the food industry had failed to reduce the levels of sugar and salt in products sufficiently and tough actions are now necessary to save countless children from a lifetime of ill health.
In a challenge to critics, she said: ‘Do you want to call that nanny state? If so, I am chief nanny.’
Elaine Hindal, chief executive of the Drinkaware charity, last night backed Dame Sally’s stance.
‘Excessive drinking in some of our towns and cities is damaging to drinkers and those around them and, at worst, alcohol poisoning can be fatal,’ she said.
‘It also places a huge burden in terms of costs and people on the police, the NHS and the emergency services.
‘Getting drunk doesn’t have to be an inevitable part of a night out or celebration and Drinkaware welcomes any initiative that helps keep people safe on a night out.’