Alliance Health spokesperson Paula Bradshaw MLA has said figures showing alcohol misuse is the biggest healthcare problem in Northern Ireland will cause considerable alarm.
Figures obtained from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency by the BBC show the number of alcohol-related deaths here is the highest on record. Statistics show between 2001 and 2016, more than 3,500 deaths in Northern Ireland were attributed to alcohol.
Ms Bradshaw said health promotion, particularly relating to alcohol, must be a fundamental part of the transformation process.
“These figures will cause considerable alarm as we see more people dying from alcohol abuse or misuse in Northern Ireland than in England and Wales over a prolonged period, and that the situation is only getting worse.
“Yet again we see a matter of life and death is not getting the attention it needs because of a lack of a functioning Executive. We cannot put in place or even debate legislation such as alcohol pricing while the two largest parties continue playing games.
“Fundamentally, as part of the transformation process, we do need to consider what we can do collectively to make us a healthier society generally, as much as what systems exist when we fall ill. These figures demonstrate the very serious and human cost of alcohol misuse, and we can no longer ignore them.”