The Sheffield Alcohol Research Group’s (SARG) programme of work began with the development of the Sheffield Alcohol Policy Model. It has informed strategic thinking across policy options that target alcohol related harms at national and local authority levels, understanding socio-economic differentials in consumption, in the burden of ill-health and associated costs. The University is in the process of using the Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) data to develop modelling work that focuses on smoking only, and on alcohol and smoking jointly. The work tends to consider a range of outcomes of which hospital admissions and costs are a part.

SARG’s programme of work includes 1) understanding past trends, and 2) forecasting to estimate the potential effects of new policy or interventions. This work is being conducted at a range of geographic scales, including national and local authority level.

Aims & objectives

The two main objectives are:

  1. To investigate past trends in alcohol and/or smoking related hospital admissions and costs. The data will also be used to investigate past policy effects on hospital admissions and associated costs.
  2. To investigate the potential future effects on hospitalisations and costs of proposed changes to alcohol and/or tobacco policy.

Why this research is needed now

The data on hospital admissions and associated costs will form part of the evidence that the University of Sheffield use to generate policy relevant outcomes from these new models that aim to answer the question of what might be the effects of proposed changes to the alcohol and/or tobacco policy strategy. The model will translate the estimated effects of policy on tobacco and/or alcohol consumption to outcomes in terms of the hospital admissions and associated costs that might be prevented.


The data provided are used for an on-going programme of work at The University of Sheffield to develop public health economic models for policymaker decision support in the fields of alcohol and tobacco control. Our work is entirely for public benefit and not for private commercial gain. This programme of work includes several research projects, some of which have their own associated funding.

Protecting Patients

This study involves data held on the NHS Digital database, the database that holds data on all hospital admissions in England. We use a pseudo-anonymised extract of Hospital Episode Statistics Admitted Patient Care for patients resident in England. The data extend from 2002/03 to the latest available (with annual updates currently paid for up to 2019/20).

No patient identifying information (such as name, date of birth or address) will be made available to the researchers. All identifiable data will be removed by the NHS data managers before any data is made available to the research team; all data received by the research team will be ‘pseudonymised’ (i.e. NHS Digital will assign a non-identifying ID number to each record, in place of the deleted identifiable information such as names, address etc.). No record-level data used in this study will be transferred to any third country or international organisation at any point. The overall Data Retention Period for the project ends on 28/02/2021, and all original personal data will be securely deleted by this date.

The lawful basis for processing the Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) data for this study is defined in Article 6 (1) (e) of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The data we are processing is classed as sensitive data and additional legal basis is provided by Article 9 (1) of the GDPR whereby our processing is necessary in the area of public health and specifically to maintain high standards of quality and safety in health care. The basis for dissemination relies on the Health and Social Care Act 2012 – s261 (1) and s261 (2)(b) (ii).

Should any individual wish to have data related to them excluded from the study i.e. wish to exercise their Patient’s Right of Objection to their data being used for research, or their Right to Erasure (‘right to be forgotten’) under article 17 of GDPR, they should contact the study team (contact details listed below) requesting that their data be excluded from the study. Please provide your full name, sex, date of birth, address details so that NHS Digital can identify their data, and exclude it from any data extraction performed in connection with this study. This study involves no decision making or profiling that would produce a legal or other significant effect on any participant.

Data controller

The University of Sheffield is the Data Controller for this study. Please see the University of Sheffield General Privacy Notice for information on the handling of personal data by the university for research (e.g. this study), including details of the data protection officer, supervisory authority, right of complaint, and lawful basis for data processing under GDPR.

Contact Information

Dr Duncan Gillespie and Laura Webster
School of Health and Related Research.
Regent Court,
30 Regent Street,
S1 4DA Sheffield, UK