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Better alcohol services could save hospitals £1.6m

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Tens of thousands of hospital admissions for alcohol could be prevented each year if services to help drinkers were improved, a new report has claimed.

The study has revealed that hospital admissions could be cut by 5% while health costs would drop by £1.6m in each district hospital across the UK.

Overall, the UK economy could save £393m if services were made more effective.

The joint study, by the British Society of Gastroenterology, Alcohol Health Alliance UK and the British Association for Study of the Liver, calls for closer working between GP surgeries and hospitals.

It said hospital departments - including A&E and mental health - should link up to provide quick help to people with alcohol problems. A specialist nurse service running seven days a week could help support the departments, it said.

Meanwhile, an assertive outreach alcohol service (AOAS) could be set up in each health district to treat people who frequently end up in hospital because of drinking.

This would free up hospital time and resources and enable those with drink problems to be treated in a supportive community environment, the report said.

Around 40,000 deaths a year are linked to alcohol misuse, at a cost to the NHS of £2.7bn.

The report said: “The development of high quality, integrated prevention and treatment services for people with alcohol-related disease will prove to be a wise investment for the future health of our nation, especially that of our young people.”

Professor Ian Gilmore, chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance and president of the Royal College of Physicians, said: “Education of the public about alcohol and alcohol-related problems is essential for our long-term health, but it will take many years to have a major impact.

“Therefore, we really do need to evaluate the treatment services that are currently in place if we are to ever address the effects of Britain’s alcohol epidemic on our hospitals and on the health of our nation.”

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Readers' comments (2)

  • Once again, a report clearly pronounces that prevention saves money, long-term, and provides beetter service for Patients. Why is it that the NHS is so incapable of refocusing its services towards prevention? Is it Managers, Clinicians, Government targets, or what?

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  • Here we go again. Naturaly there are a whole raft of measures that could be taken in order to free up hospital beds and in particular multiple hospital admissions but the fact remains that alcoholism and alcohol related illnesses are just as serious as any other illness and patients shouldn't be prematurely discharged on a 'wing and a prayer' just because of the stigma attached to alcoholism, to meet targets or budgets. Its about time the NHS and the Government did refocus on prevention especialy on repeated addmission cases and instead of management worrying so much about the costs might I remind them that patient care is what should be at the top of the agenda not £ signs. I'm a qualified and registered 'Drugs, Solvent and Alcohol Abuse Counsellor' and I can't get a job in the industry. So if it's such a problem, why don't Management, Clinitians and the Government put their money where your mouth is.

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