Rise in Drink-related Hospital Admissions - Turning Point Comment

News item posted: 19 June 2017

Leading care provider Turning Point is calling on the NHS to put alcohol specialists in A and E departments. 

John Mallalieu, Turning Point's Director of Substance Misuse Services, says this would identify dependent drinkers and get them into treatment quicker.  His comments are in response to new figures * showing drink-related hospital admissions topped one million last year. He said:

"These new statistics are yet further evidence that the government needs to treat alcohol misuse as seriously as the misuse of illegal drugs, and invest equally in alcohol treatment provision.  

"Alcohol- related illness is a huge problem in this country, and one which is on the rise. More and more people are being admitted to A&E as a result of excessive drinking yet all too often, alcohol-related problems don't get picked up. This means people are likely to be turning up to A & E again and again without having their needs addressed, adding to NHS costs. 

"For this reason, Turning Point is calling for greater investment in early engagement support and education services and for alcohol specialists to be placed in all A & E departments so they can identify dependent drinkers and get them into treatment quickly."

 Binge drinking is to blame for the rise in 10 to 35-year-olds showing up to A&E departments.  But Turning Point has evidence that patients benefit from brief alcohol intervention services in hospitals.

The social care provider piloted a scheme where its staff are based within A and E units.  Patients are given advice and information, alcohol screening, health and unit awareness, as well as signposting to local and national alcohol services. It is hoped that intervention at this stage will help people understand the problems caused by excessive binge drinking.  The A & E project was piloted in Watford General Hospital. Due to it's success in reducing the 'revolving door' of admissions into A & E, the program is now running within Hertfordshire's 3 A & E units and two Urgent Care Units.  Turning Point is also running a similar project in Gateshead.

Turning Point has also distributed 'Binge Packs' at Watford General Hospital, Lister and QE2 A and E and Hemel Hempstead Urgent Care Centre. These packs contain condoms as well as advice on alcohol and useful helpline contacts.

The 'Binge Pack' pilot is aimed at helping people who present at A&E intoxicated with drink-related health issues or alcohol-related injuries including victims of drink-related violence.

Glenda Lee, who manages Turning Point's Hertsreach Dacorum service, commented:

"We think that this new scheme holds great promise and is something that could easily be rolled out across the country. Turning Point believes it is crucial to identify dependent drinkers early, to raise public awareness and to ensure that prevention and education is at the heart of the alcohol treatment pathway.

"If we can get to people when they are at hospital, they can be very receptive to being told about the dangers of alcohol and the problems caused by excessive drinking. It could lead them to changing their drinking habits, so they are less likely to need hospital treatment again.

"Without this support, people are likely to turn up to A&E again and again without having their needs properly addressed. The drain on NHS cost is great but support such as this reduces it significantly."

* NHS Information Centre figures on drink-related admissions to A and E from 2009 to 2010

For further information or an interview with Glenda Lee please contact the Turning Point press office on 0207 553 5238, out of hours mobile 07786 938 601.