MUP has had ‘ lasting impact ’ on drinking levels
' The introduction of MUP in Wales ... has had a similar impact to the one we saw in Scotland .'
PROF PETER ANDERSON
Minimum unit pricing ( MUP ) is having a lasting impact in reducing alcohol consumption in ‘ some of the heaviest drinking households ’, according to research by the University of Newcastle published in Lancet Public Health . The team looked at the alcohol purchases of more than 35,000 households across the UK , and found they had fallen by almost 8 per cent in Scotland following the introduction of MUP in 2018 .
The households that tended to buy the most alcohol were the likeliest to reduce their purchases in both Scotland and Wales – where MUP was introduced last year – researchers found . MUP ’ s impact was measured by using northern England as a control for Scotland and western England as a control for Wales . However , some high-purchasing households in the lowest income bracket had not reduced their purchasing levels , meaning they were now spending more on alcohol than before . A full evaluation of the impact of MUP will be published by NHS Health Scotland in 2023 .
‘ We can now see that the introduction of MUP in Wales at the beginning of March 2020 has had a similar impact to the one we saw in Scotland in 2018 , and we hope to see a continued benefit ,’ said study lead Professor Peter Anderson of Newcastle University . It was , however , ‘ a concern ’ that high-purchasing , lowest income households ‘ did not adjust their buying habits , and their spending simply increased as a result of the MUP policy ’, added co-author Professor Eileen Kaner . ‘ This is something that we want to explore further so we can better understand the reasons behind this , as well as its impact .’
‘ This is powerful real-world evidence of the success of minimum unit pricing as a harm reduction policy ,’ said chair of the
Alcohol Health Alliance , Professor Sir Ian Gilmore .
‘ Westminster has said time and time again that it is waiting for evidence from Scotland and Wales on minimum unit pricing . The evidence is here – it ’ s time for the government to introduce minimum unit pricing in England in order to save lives , cut crime and reduce pressure on our NHS and emergency services .’
Meanwhile , the Republic of Ireland will introduce MUP from next January , while Northern Ireland also plans to launch a ‘ full consultation ’ on minimum pricing this year ( DDN , September 2020 , page 4 ). As was the case in Scotland , Ireland ’ s plans have met with resistance from the drinks industry , with some trade bodies criticising the government ’ s intention to press ahead without alignment with Northern Ireland and stating that it would simply result in a ‘ surge in cross-border shopping ’. Study at www . thelancet . com / journals / lanpub / article / PIIS2468- 2667 ( 21 ) 00052-9 / fulltext
Scots taskforce publishes new drug treatment standards
TEN NEW STANDARDS for drug treatment have been published by the Scottish Government ’ s Drug Deaths Taskforce , with the aim of reinforcing ‘ a rights-based approach for people who use drugs and the treatment they should expect , regardless of where they live ’.
The standards apply to both substitute medication and psychological and social support , and stress the importance of people being able to make informed choices about the kinds of medication and help available . People must also ‘ be able to start receiving treatment on the day that they ask for it ’, the Scottish Government states . Funding from the annual £ 50m for treatment services announced earlier this year ( DDN , February , page 4 ) will ensure that alcohol and drugs partnerships are able to embed the new standards by next April , it adds .
Four separate funds worth a total of £ 18m are also open for applications from not-for-profit organisations in the drugs sector – the schemes will run for five years and are intended to improve access to treatment and support consistent standards .
‘ Scotland ’ s MAT [ medicationassisted treatment ] standards are the most significant landmark in improving Scotland ’ s response to problem drug use in over a decade ,’ said Scottish Drugs Forum CEO David Liddell . ‘ Services need to be more attractive , more approachable and more accessible , and reach out to people who have been in treatment but no longer are . These standards are the basis for making services truly personcentred . Implementing them will help services develop empowering relationships with people in treatment . Full implementation of the standards will save lives , reduce harm and transform people ’ s quality of life .’
Medication assisted treatment ( MAT ) standards for Scotland : Access , choice , support at www . gov . scot / publications / medicationassisted-treatment-mat-standardsscotland-access-choice-support / Fund details at www . gov . scot / news / funds-open-for-drugsservices /
All change at SMMGP
SMMGP IS CHANGING ITS NAME to Addiction Professionals , the organisation has announced . The grassroots GP network recently held its 25th annual Managing Drug and Alcohol Problems in Primary Care joint conference with RCGP ( DDN , April , page 10 , and May , pages 10 , 13 and 18 ) and in 2017 also took over the functions of the Federation of Drug and Alcohol Professionals ( FDAP ). The decision to re-brand was taken to ‘ reflect the growth and prominence ’ of this joint organisation , it says , as the membership now encompasses GPs , counsellors , psychiatrists , psychologists , keyworkers , pharmacists , social workers , nurses and mentors . www . addictionprofessionals . org . uk
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