GHP June 2017

GHP / June 2017 7 NEWS , A survey of 147 A&E departments, con- ducted by research- ers from the Univer- sity of Surrey, found that young people are not rou- tinely asked about their alcohol consumption, a useful tool in de- tecting alcohol problems. The re- search also found that those over the age of 65 are not routinely asked about their drinking either. The survey found that over 85% of A&E departments do not rou- tinely ask young people about their alcohol consumption or use formal screening tools to identify those that may need help or ad- vice about their drinking. This is in contravention of NICE guidelines, which suggest that screening fol- lowed by feedback of the results is the most effective way to re- duce alcohol related harm. Although young people are drink- ing less than previous genera- tions, this age group still accounts for the largest number of alco- hol-related A&E admissions. Re- searchers also found that people over the age of 65 are not asked about their alcohol consumption. Drinking above recommended limits can have a disproportion- ate effect on older people due to interactions with medications, and increased sensitivity to the consequences of consumption. Statistics show that 20% of older people drink at unsafe levels. A&E departments were, howev- er, found to be improving alcohol screening for adults, with more than 60% routinely asking and using formal screening tools to ascertain alcohol consumption. More than 80% of departments had increased their access to alcohol health workers/clinical nurse specialists since 2011, of- fering expert advice and support to patients with alcohol problems. A&E departments had also made progress in informing general practitioners of when individuals were admitted to hospitals, help- ing to create a care plan for the individual. Harm from alcohol currently costs the UK around £21bn per year, with £3.5bn spent in the NHS, £11bn tackling alcohol-related crime and £7.3bn from lost work days and productivity costs. [1] This figure is expected to rise with increased sales of alcohol. Lead author of the report Dr Rob- ert Patton from the University of Surrey said: “Ending up in A&E is often a wakeup call for people and forces them to assess their alcohol consumption. However, this is not always the case and sometimes involvement from a health care professional is what is required to support people in re- ducing their alcohol consumption. “The fact that young people and those over 65 are not routinely asked about their alcohol intake results in their problem being swept under the carpet which is dangerous. Alcohol can destroy lives and puts undue pressure on the NHS, so it is important that the support is in place to help those affected.”