New NHS figures to be released this week will show an "alarming increase" all over England in emergency hospital admissions owing to alcohol abuse, according to The Observer. The statistics come two years after the Government relaxed licensing laws to permit 24-hour drinking and have led to critics demanding stronger measures to reduce the levels of alcohol-related harm. The North-East of England has the worst problem, closely followed by the North-West, while the region with the best record is the East of England. Figures show a clear North-South divide, with nine of the 10 areas having the highest rate of hospital admissions being in the North. Liverpool, Manchester and Middlesbrough were all in the top five for both men and women. Professor Ian Gilmore, president of the Royal College of Physicians, described the figures as "very worrying". He called on the Government to review both the availability of drink and the way it is promoted. Mark Bellis, director of the Centre for Public Health at Liverpool John Moores University which compiled the statistics, said far too many people were drinking far too much and far too often. He said restrictions on when and where people can drink, such as public parks, needed to be considered. The Observer 14/10/07 pages 1 & 2