47 underage drinkers hospitalised for alcohol poisoning last year in Gloucestershire
YOUNGSTERS under 18 were admitted to hospital in Gloucestershire nearly 50 times with alcohol poisoning last year.
And well over half of these involved 11 to 16-year-olds, according to official figures.
Admissions to Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust for alcohol poisoning among adults also continued to increase for the fourth year – running to almost 700 in total.
Figures published by the NHS Information Centre showed that children aged under 18 were admitted 47 times in 2011/12, compared to 44 the previous year.
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Among the age group 11 to 16, there were 38 admissions.
It comes as an argument rages in Parliament over how to deal with problem drinking. There is mounting speculation that Government plans for minimum alcohol pricing, personally championed by David Cameron, are to be ditched.
Last week, ministers refused to confirm whether plans for a minimum price on alcohol had been scrapped, amid reports of Cabinet in-fighting over the policy.
A consultation document issued last year had suggested a base price of 45p per unit, but a number of Cabinet Ministers including Theresa May, Andrew Lansley and Michael Gove, have made clear they harbour doubts.
Leading doctors have urged Mr Cameron to "be courageous" and take a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to save lives and save the country's money".
But Tory critics said minimum pricing was a "blunderbuss" policy that would penalise responsible low-income drinkers while doing nothing to tackle problem drinking.
The Prime Minister has insisted he remained determined to crack down on problem drinking.
Responding to an urgent question on the status of the plan, Crime Prevention Minister Jeremy Browne said the consultation had closed and there were "powerful arguments on both sides of the debate".
A decision would be announced once "careful evaluation" was completed, he added.
But Labour's Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said she was "still none the wiser" about the Government's policy.