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Crackdown on free drinks at RCN Congress

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The RCN wants to ban free alcohol from many events at its next annual congress, in line with the wider public health agenda.

In a report presented at the college’s council meeting last week, it was revealed that the event’s agenda committee has agreed a ban on free alcohol at fringe discussion events.

At organised social events, free alcohol should be limited to one welcome drink per person, the committee said.

The report suggested that large-scale alcohol consumption in social situations was at odds with other initiatives designed to improve member’s health at this year’s congress in Bournemouth.

‘The committee also highlighted the dichotomy between the highly successful Fit for Congress campaign and the plethora of social events at which vast quantities of alcohol was being consumed,’ it states.

RCN general secretary Peter Carter denied that nurses were over-indulgent at congress. ‘Our members work extremely hard. The implication is that people is that people are getting hammered – that is not the case,’ he told council.

However, council member Andrea Spyropoulos said she was concerned that such a move would impinge on member’s freedom. ‘I find this a bit big brotherish,’ she said.

The move coincides with data published last week that showed up to 6% of all hospital admissions are due to alcohol.

In 2006 there were 811,000 admissions linked to alcohol, reveal the findings published last week by the Northwest Public Health Observatory on behalf of the Department of Health. In 2002 this figure was just 473,500.

The latest figures include a total of 44 conditions caused by, or strongly-associated, with alcohol consumption. Previously, admissions statistics only counted the three most common – alcoholic liver disease, alcohol poisoning, and mental and behavioural disorders.

The figures accompany a KPMG review of the drinks industry, which found voluntary agreements to restrict the way alcohol was sold were being flouted by pubs, wine bars and off licences. As a result the government has threatened to make it mandatory to put warnings and advice on bottles and cans.

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