ALMOST one in seven people admitted to local accident and emergency departments with alcohol problems are children, new figures have revealed.

In the 12 months up to the end of June this year, 78 under-18s were taken to either Fairfield Hospital or North Manchester General Hospital in an alcohol-related emergency.

Some drank so much they became violently sick, while others sustained injuries after drinking for long periods.

Health chiefs say they are working hard to warn people of the dangers of under-age drinking — a particular problem in the school holidays — in the hope of keeping children safe.

Jay Murdoch, lead nurse for alcohol at Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the two hospitals, said: “We take underage drinking very seriously.

“When a child attends Accident & Emergency (A&E) with alcohol intoxication, we complete a safeguarding form and this information is then looked at by the hospital-based alcohol team and the safeguarding team before being shared with the school health advisor and school nurse.

“We hold annual alcohol awareness campaigns and we also have an alcohol strategy in place.”

She added that the trust was also in the process of recruiting two new alcohol nurse specialists.

The figures, obtained by the Bury Times using The Freedom of Information Act, show that, of the 226 people admitted to Fairfield’s A&E department in the 12-month period, 24 were aged under 18. At North Manchester General Hospital, of the 350 people admitted, 54 were aged under 18. That means, on average, nearly one in every seven alcohol-related A&E admission at the two hospitals is a child.

Bury Police is operating patrols to discourage youngsters as officers visit ‘hotspot’ areas such as golf courses to catch children drinking during the summer holidays.

Last summer, they confiscated thousands of litres of alcohol and wrote to dozens of parents.

Children caught buying alcohol from shops have been taken on a course at Bury Police Station exploring the consequences of underage drinking.

A Bury Police spokesman said: “By bringing underage drinkers to presentations, we are raising their attention to issues concerning the misuse of alcohol, but also encouraging them to make healthy lifestyle choices, and also reducing the chances of them getting involved in crime and coming to harm.”

Shopkeepers selling alcohol also have to stick to a list of strict conditions, such as marking bottles so police can trace where they were bought.