A specialist nurse is to lead initiatives at Queen’s Hospital in Burton aimed at preventing alcohol-related illnesses and providing support for patients who want to cut down on drinking.
Arlene Copland has just started in her post as alcohol specialist nurse based at Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
It will be part of her role to follow-up on patients who present at the emergency department during evenings and weekends with alcohol issues, but who are not admitted. She will also be working with a newly-formed alcohol care team intended to develop integrated support and education services.
“Even a brief, friendly informal chat between a patient and a health professional can have a huge impact on someone’s alcohol intake”
Ms Copland, who is employed by mental health provider North Staffs Combined Healthcare Trust, said: “Alcohol misuse is classed as a mental illness, so general doctors and nurses don’t get much specialist training to help them understand addiction and withdrawal.
“I will be working at Queen’s Hospital to implement screening of all patients and to standardise the way staff members assess who should be admitted to hospital, what medication should be prescribed and how people can be supported in the community when they leave hospital,” she said.
As well as putting measures and processes in place to help patients who are dependent on alcohol and those concerned about their alcohol consumption, Ms Copland wants to promote the message that everyone will see health benefits if they reduce alcohol consumption.
She said: “I believe that even a brief, friendly informal chat between a patient and a health professional can have a huge impact on someone’s alcohol intake.
“There is evidence that for every eight people a health professional asks about their alcohol intake – one will make significant changes to their drinking habits,” she said. “That can make a huge difference to their health now and in the future.”