Concerns have been raised about health attitudes in isolated communities after new figures show the rate of alcohol related deaths in the Western Isles is more than twice the Scottish average.

Last year 15 people died from amongst the 27,400 people who live in communities from Lewis in the north to Barra and Vatersay in the south, compared to eight the previous year.

It means 2014 is the highest figure in decades despite the NHS Western Isles and the Outer Hebrides Alcohol and Drug Partnership launching a major awareness campaign in February of that year “Drinking too it worth the risk?”

Last year’s figure represents a rate of almost five and a half alcohol-related deaths per 10,000 people.

This compares to just over two for Scotland as a whole and two and a half for Glasgow and Greater Clyde, the next worse health board area.

The rates for the rest of the Highlands and Islands are far lower. NHS Highland, which also embraces Argyll, is a little over two, while Orkney had fewer than one and a half per 10,000 as did Shetland.

The figures come from the National Records of Scotland and the SNP MSP for the Western Isles Alasdair Allan, said they were deeply concerning.

Mr Allan, the Minister for Learning, Science and Scotland’s Languages, said: “These figures are a sad reminder of the dangers of excessive drinking, and why it is so important for us to face up to the realities of Scotland’s drinking culture.

“I am certainly not against people enjoying a drink, and would support the responsible enjoyment of alcohol. However, statistics like this should be a wake up call for us all.

"The human cost of alcohol abuse here in the Isles, and across Scotland, is immense. Each alcohol-related death represents a tragedy for that individual’s family and a loss to society that could have been avoided.

“All this makes me more convinced than ever that the Scottish Government is doing the right thing by pursuing measures to clamp down on the availability of ultra-cheap forms of alcohol, despite the efforts being made through the courts from some quarters to maintain the availability of some forms of alcohol at prices that compete with bottled water.

“We should continue to offer support to families and communities, promote positive choices and improve treatment and support services through Scotland’s Alcohol Framework. There are clearly other huge cultural issues to be addressed, but we need to face up to them and tackle them head on."

A spokesman for the Western Isles Council said that public agencies were working together to raise awareness and address issues surrounding the use of alcohol in the islands.

But the Hebrides aren’t the only islands where alcohol is seen as a serious problem.

Last year the States of Jersey’s economic development department announced it was preparing a paper to simplify licensing laws, as well as recommend ways the laws could help tackle the island's drinking problem. Jersey’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr Rosemary Geller said Jersey, with a population a little over 100,000 had the highest rate of alcohol consumption in the world.