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DH calls on nurses to help reduce alcohol harm

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GPs and nurses can do more to increase delivery of Alcohol Identification and Brief Advice (IBA), according to research commissioned by the Department of Health.

This was the finding of research commissioned as part of the Alcohol Effects campaign that indicates some healthcare professionals may underestimate its potential impact.

A survey of healthcare professionals revealed that some GPs and nurses saw IBA solely as a diagnostic tool when in fact robust evidence shows that it serves as an intervention in its own right – reducing consumption to lower risk levels for one ineight higher risk drinkers.  Some healthcare professionals also viewed the tool principally as a way to identify dependent drinkers, rather than it being aimed at all drinkers who are regularly drinking more than the NHS advises. 

Professor Ian Gilmore, president of the Royal College of Physicians said: “IBAs really work, and are up there with some of the most effective interventions that are available to us in healthcare. Many healthcare workers don’t realise that IBAs for harmful drinkers are even more effective than current interventions for smoking.  Let’s take every opportunity to reduce this preventable burden of health harm”

The IBA involves using quick and simple tools to not only accurately identify patients’ levels of risk in relation to their drinking, but help those drinking at increasing and higher risk levels to recognise the potential risk and cut down.  It prompts drinkers to reconsider their behaviour and encourages them to reduce their consumption to lower risk levels

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Readers' comments (1)

  • This is what I wrote a few days ago on another post:

    Firstly, we know that alcohol abuse is responsible for serious ill health and social effects such as road accidents, crimes, domestic violence, liver failure, birth defects, mental instability, absenteeism, etc…
    Yet, there is still no ban on ads of alcohol, despite numerous international studies showing the benefit of such a ban.

    Secondly, according to the Institute of Alcohol Studies (IAS), the revenue (Excise duties & VAT) collected from Alcoholic Drink in UK is approximately £15 billions, that is the equivalent of the cost of Nurses and Midwives within the NHS in terms of wages, training, recruitment, insurance or other associated costs ( see report “Front line care”).

    Thirdly, The World Health Organisation’s European Charter on Alcohol states:
    ‘All children and adolescents have the right to grow up in an environment protected from the negative consequences of alcohol consumption and, to the extent possible, from the promotion of alcoholic beverages.’

    If the UK government are serious about public health, a few things they can do is to ban the advertising of all alcoholic beverages on TV and in cinemas as well as prohibiting sponsorship of sport or cultural events by alcohol companies, increasing further taxation on alcohol and tobacco products and capping significantly salt/sugar level within the food industry.

    These actions will reduce healthcare demand and, therefore, its burden. These savings and extra money could be used to recruit more health professionals, develop their continuous education, set up a mandatory Nurse/Patient ratio and invest further in primary health care.

    So get real about IBA! The onus is on the Government

    Abel Sidhoum (RN)

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