High cost of booze injuries in Christchurch

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images
Ongoing treatment for alcohol-related injuries has cost ACC almost $3.5 million in Christchurch since 2016, with the number of new claims also reaching a five-year high.

Figures released to The Star revealed there were 291 new alcohol-related claims lodged from New Year’s Day to December 18. 2021 – 68 more than 2020.

The previous five-year high was in 2019, when ACC dealt with 284 new claims in the city.

Active claims mean claimants can receive payments for several years.

There are currently 253 active claims in Christchurch, another five-year high, with ACC so far paying out $537,070.

This figure is well below the outlier in 2019, when $1.26 million was paid out, but it is still a concern for the government’s no-fault injury compensation scheme.

“The alcohol-related statistics speak for themselves,” said ACC injury prevention programme leader James Whitaker.

“It’s obvious we need to take a step back and think about how our actions could harm ourselves and others.

“When we’re having a few drinks, most of us get to a point where we wonder if it’s wise to have more. Listen to the voice inside of you that lets you know when you’ve had enough.”

Hospitality industry workers were also put on notice to be vigilant, with back issues attributed to moving kegs, crates and barrels featuring prominently in an injury breakdown.

Soft tissue injuries led the top five primary diagnoses with 134 new claims lodged in Canterbury this year.

Open wounds made up 120 of the new claims, with broken bottles and glass injuries offered as potential causes.

Other leading primary diagnoses were fracture/dislocation, dental injuries and concussion. The dental injuries were mostly caused by fights, falls and chipped teeth from glass or bottles.

Alcohol Action NZ chairman Tony Farrell said every year alcohol is linked to injuries that put people in wheelchairs after jumping from heights, as well as drink driving and causing driveway accidents.

“Alcohol is ‘aggressionogenic’, so people hurt and kill each other using this drug,” Farrell said.

He said injuries happen because alcohol causes intoxication, and impairs judgement and co-ordination relatively quickly. It disinhibited people and made them more likely to take risks, he said.

He believed the figures were not a true reflection of harm, with many injuries from family harm incidents going unreported.

People also hurt themselves when in withdrawal or during hangovers, while fatigue from sleep issues linked to alcohol was a factor in accidents that were not reported.

He said alcohol was well-known to be a “significant” cause of injury and death, especially after drinking more than six standard drinks on one occasion.

He said one in five people in New Zealand drink like this – or about 820,000 people.

NZ Alcohol Beverages Council executive director Bridget MacDonald said it was important to keep safe and social by making sensible decisions and supporting others to do the same.

MacDonald said New Zealand is experiencing a shift in drinking culture and attitudes.

“We are making better decisions about alcohol, and our behaviours are changing, particularly how we drink and socialise and our purchasing decisions. Forty per cent of Kiwis consumed low-alcohol drinks last year. It’s being driven by a shift in positive social attitudes toward no and low-alcohol beverages, which are now seen as socially acceptable.”

She said education is the key to reducing alcohol-related harm.

“Make the most of your summer social occasions by moderating how much you drink, considering no and low-alcohol options, staying hydrated with water, enjoying your drink with some food, and having a plan to get home safely,” MacDonald said. 

  • ACTIVE COSTS FOR ALCOHOL-RELATED CLAIMS IN CHRISTCHURCH WITH PAYMENTS MADE FROM JANUARY 1, 2016 TO DECEMBER 18, 2021

2016: $380,109
2017: $377,578
2018: 497,815
2019: $1.260,179
2020: 436,070
2021: $537,070

  • NUMBER OF ACTIVE ALCOHOL-RELATED CLAIMS IN CHRISTCHURCH WITH PAYMENTS MADE BETWEEN JANUARY 1, 2016 AND DECEMBER 18, 2021

2016: 180
2017: 179
2018: 196
2019: 231
2020: 206
2021: 253

  • NEW ALCOHOL-RELATED CLAIMS IN CHRISTCHURCH LODGED BETWEEN JANUARY 1, 2016 AND DECEMBER 18, 2021

2016: 175
2017: 188
2018: 227
2019: 284
2020: 223
2021: 291     

- Additional reporting NZ Herald

 

 

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