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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Drink deaths among profession falling

By Steve Nowottny

Alcohol-related deaths among doctors have been cut dramatically by ‘a cultural change towards drinking within the medical profession', according to a new report.

Researchers from the Office of National Statistics found doctors, who in the 1980s had one of the highest rates of alcohol-related mortality, recorded one of the lowest rates between 2001 and 2005.

Male doctors now have a standardised mortality ratio (SMR) of just 27, compared to 852 in coal mine operatives and 798 in merchant navy sailors.

The study's authors said this suggested there had been ‘real change' in doctors' drinking habits.

‘This may be similar to the situation with smoking where, once the hazards were recognised in Britain, doctors gave up smoking earlier than the general population,' they wrote.

The drop in deaths could also be partly due to the high number of Asian doctors now practising, they added.

The new figures follow Pulse's GP Health Survey in March, which found the percentage of GPs who misuse alcohol had fallen from 5% in 2000 to just 2% in 2007.

The demon drink: Drs' death toll is falling acording to a new study The demon drink: Drs' death toll falling

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