Could a minimum unit price benefit the UK?

On Monday 9 December, Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, Royal College of Physicians (RCP) special adviser on alcohol and President of the British Society of Gastroenterology, will outline the benefits that the introduction of evidence-based alcohol policies such as minimum unit pricing could have on the health of the UK population. Speaking at a joint conference of the RCP, the British Society of Gastroenterology and the British Association for the Study of the Liver, Sir Ian will highlight the growing problem of alcohol in the UK and how minimum unit pricing could have a substantial impact on this.

Speaking before the event, Sir Ian Gilmore said:

There is accumulating evidence that UK Government's failure to implement an evidence-based alcohol strategy is damaging the most vulnerable in society. Individuals, families and communities are suffering harms that could be reversed by policies like a minimum unit price, which do not disadvantage moderate drinkers but have far-reaching benefits for those that suffer most.

The conference will also hear from a range of expert speakers including:

  • Dr Kieran Moriarty, from the British Society of Gastroenterology, on ‘Alcohol Care Teams for Britain’s Hospitals’
  • Professor Jonathan Shepherd, from Cardiff University, on ‘Partnership working and data sharing’
  • Dr Evelyn Gillan, from Alcohol Focus Scotland, on ‘Implementing an evidence-based alcohol policy'
  • Councillor Nick Forbes, Newcastle City Council, on ‘Influencing national policy, implementing local policy’
  • Alastair Campbell - who will provide his personal view on alcohol.

The conference will draw on the differing experiences of the devolved nations and will examine the impact of developing local hospital policies for the management of alcohol problems and their outreach into the community. The conference will also address how to implement effective change, develop local services, critically evaluate the evidence and empower healthcare staff to be effective advocates with policy makers, the public and the media.

Included in the conference programme, topics of discussion will include:

  • implementing an evidence-based alcohol policy
  • primary care - getting GP colleagues on-board
  • alcohol in the new public health system.

On the conference, Dr Kieran Moriarty from the British Society of Gastroenterology said:

Alcohol-related health problems continue to put immense pressure on clinicians and the NHS budget.

This year’s Measuring the Units NCEPOD Report has again highlighted the urgent need for the implementation of multidisciplinary Alcohol Care Teams (ACTs) in every hospital. The ACT approach saves lives and they are easy to implement, with proven cost benefit. With fewer than a quarter of hospitals in 2013 operating an ACT, this is a real open goal for service improvement and could be supported by the Government’s Integration Fund.

President of the British Association for the Study of the Liver, Dr Mark Hudson said:

The evidence suggests that minimum unit pricing works and this would be the most practical way of reducing heavy alcohol consumption and reducing alcohol related deaths.


For further information, please contact Morgan Evans, RCP communications and new media adviser, on 020 3075 1468 / 0779 508 8253, or email