NHS launches ‘effective’ plan to tackle alcohol abuse

UK alcohol watchdog the Portman Group has welcomed the new NHS Long Term Plan, which will create teams to support people who are alcohol dependant in England.

The new scheme will include the creation of a new Alcohol Care Team, which will be rolled out in hospitals with the highest number of alcohol-related admissions. It will offer support to patients and their families dealing with alcohol misuse.

This will be delivered in the 25% worst affected parts of the country and could prevent 50,000 admissions and almost 250,000 bed days over five years, according to the NHS.

As part of the initiative, expert teams will work in up to 50 hospitals across the country to deliver alcohol checks and provide access to healthcare within 24 hours if problems are found – including counselling, medically assisted help to give up alcohol and support to help abstain from drink.

Alcohol-related hospital admissions have increased by 17% over the last 10 years. In 2016/17, there were 337,000 estimated admissions – 2.1% of the total. Alcohol-related abuse is estimated to cost the NHS in England £3.5 billion (US$4.4bn) every year.

John Timothy, chief executive of the Portman Group, said the scheme “will be welcomed by all within the industry”.

He said: “We know that the majority of people in the UK are drinking sensibly but there remains a small minority – around 4% of drinkers in the UK – that continue to drink to dangerous and harmful levels.

“There is a clear case for targeted interventions, designed with the flexibility to be adapted for local need, to identify and support those people that need help. This will prove more effective and more cost efficient than any blanket measures to curb drinking.”

In addition, more than half a million patients who smoke, including pregnant women and their partners, will also be aided to stop as part of a new drive that will see all smokers admitted to hospital encouraged to quit.

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said: “Drinking to excess can destroy families, with the NHS too often left to pick up the pieces.

“Alcohol and tobacco addiction remain two of the biggest causes of ill health and early death, and the right support can save lives.”

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Author: Nicola Carruthers {authorlink}