SHAAP Director Elinor Jayne responds to ONS data on alcohol-specific death rates in the UK.


The Office for National Statistics released "Alcohol-specific deaths in the UK: registered in 2020" on 7 December 2021, here are the main points: 

  • In 2020, there were 8,974 deaths (14.0 per 100,000 people) from alcohol-specific causes registered in the UK, an 18.6% increase compared with 2019 (7,565 deaths; 11.8 per 100,000 people) and the highest year-on-year increase since the data time series began in 2001.
  • Between 2012 and 2019, rates of alcohol-specific deaths in the UK have remained stable, but a statistically significant increase was seen in 2020.
  • Consistent with previous years, the rate of alcohol-specific deaths for males in 2020 remained more than double the rate for females (19.0 and 9.2 deaths per 100,000 people respectively, registered in 2020).
  • Scotland and Northern Ireland had the highest rates of alcohol-specific deaths in 2020 (21.5 and 19.6 deaths per 100,000 people respectively).
  • Comparing with 2019, the alcohol-specific death rate has risen across all four UK constituent countries, but statistically significant increases were only seen in England and Scotland.

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Responding to Office of National Statistics data on alcohol-specific death rates in the four nations of the UK, SHAAP’s Director Elinor Jayne said:

“The harm caused by alcohol in Scotland is once again highlighted by new data showing that of the four nations of the UK, we have the highest alcohol-specific death rate, with a significant increase in deaths in 2020. For every person who has died, there are many, many left behind who will be dealing with the suffering caused by alcohol both while their loved one was alive, and now that they are dead. And for every person who has died, there are many, many more in Scotland who have an alcohol problem which is affecting their daily lives, relationships and health. 

“We should not accept that somehow alcohol harm is acceptable in Scotland. We need more to be done to prevent problems from developing such as increasing the level of minimum unit pricing from 50p to 65p and restricting marketing of alcohol. 

“On top of that, we must now see a real focus on the services and treatment that people with alcohol problems in Scotland should be able to access, with a view to increasing capacity and making it much easier for people with alcohol problems to gain the support and treatment they need to reduce consumption or stop drinking altogether.”