Drink and Drugs News DDN February 2019 | Page 5

Read the full stories, and more, online www.drinkanddrugsnews.com FOCUS ON ALCOHOL FOR NEW LONG-TERM NHS PLAN ALCOHOL CARE TEAMS WILL OFFER SUPPORT TO ALCOHOL-DEPENDENT PATIENTS IN MORE HOSPITALS, as part of the new NHS long-term plan. The teams will be rolled out in hospitals with the highest number of alcohol-related admissions to provide help to patients and their families, with the service to be made available in the ‘25 per cent worst affected parts of the country’. Alcohol care teams in hospitals in Bolton, Salford, Nottingham, Liverpool, Portsmouth and London have already led to a reduction in A&E attendances and readmissions, says the NHS, while ambulance call outs have also ‘significantly reduced’. The new teams will work in as many as 50 settings across the country, delivering alcohol checks and providing rapid access to counselling and medically assisted help to give up alcohol and support to stay off it. Although hospital-based, the teams will work with local community services to ‘ensure all needs, including any other health needs, are met’. Alcohol-related hospital admissions have increased by 17 per cent over the course of a decade, to 337,000 in 2016-17. NHS England estimates the annual cost of alcohol-related harm at £3.5bn. The initiative is part of a major focus on prevention in the new NHS plan, alongside support for patients who smoke and action on obesity and diabetes. ‘Drinking to excess can destroy families, with the NHS too often left to pick up the pieces,’ said NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens. ‘Alcohol and tobacco addiction remain two of the biggest causes of ill health and early death, and the right support can save lives. The NHS long-term plan delivers a sea change in care for a range of major conditions like cancer, mental ill health and heart disease, as well as stepping up to do more on preventing ill health in the first place by giving patients the support they need to take greater control of their own health and stay fitter longer.’ The focus on managing alcohol- related ill health was ‘very welcome’, said Royal College of Physicians president Andrew Goddard. ‘It is an increasing problem in our hospitals where many patients first come to the attention of the NHS. We mustn’t forget prevention though and further measures to reduce harmful drinking are SimoN STeveNS much needed.’ Meanwhile, alcohol-related deaths in Northern Ireland have reached their highest ever level after four years of consecutive increases, according to the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA). More than 300 deaths were the result of alcohol-related causes in 2017, a 70 per cent increase since records began in 2001. There were ‘notably higher’ numbers of alcohol-related deaths in areas of deprivation, said NISRA. www.longtermplan.nhs.uk Alcohol related deaths registered in Northern Ireland, 2007-2017 at www.nisra.gov.uk ‘The NHS is too often left to pick up the pieces.’ ZERO TOLERANCE SCOTLAND IS TO INTRODUCE A ‘ZERO TOLERANCE’ APPROACH to drug driving from October. There will no longer be any requirement to prove someone was driving ‘in an impaired manner’, the Scottish Government states, with limits for eight of the most common illicit drugs set a level ‘where any claims of accidental exposure can be ruled out’. Drugs associated with medical use, meanwhile, will have limits based on impairment and risk to road safety. ‘Drug driving is completely unacceptable, and we will continue to use all of the tools at our disposal to prevent the avoidable deaths and damage caused by those who drive under the influence of drugs,’ said justice secretary Humza Yousaf. ‘Together with our stringent drink-driving limits, these new laws will ensure that Scotland has the UK’s most robust laws against impaired and unsafe driving.’ BLENHEIM CDP AND HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE CHARITY HUMANKIND have confirmed that the two organisations will merge in April. The new organisation, which will be called Humankind, will employ more than 1,100 staff, offer a comprehensive range of services including housing and health, and work in partnership with providers across the health and social care spectrum. ‘Blenheim’s passion and belief in people’s capacity to change has been at the heart of the organisation for the last 55 years, driving delivery of excellent services and effective campaigning for best practice,’ said chair of Blenheim’s board of trustees, Eric Feltin. ‘By coming together, our joint organisation will have much greater reach to deliver this best practice and have the resources to drive further innovation, developing more compelling services as a result.’ CHEMSEX SUPPORT A FREE RESOURCE FOR FAMILIES, partners and friends of LGBT people using drugs, alcohol or engaging in chemsex has been produced by Adfam and London Friend. ‘Supporting a friend, partner, or family member affected by problematic alcohol or drug use can be difficult,’ says Adfam. ‘Although family support groups exist, they are not generally LGBT specific, and people attending may not feel comfortable talking about a same-sex partner, or about sensitive issues such as chemsex.’ Chemsex: more than just sex & drugs at adfam.org.uk COST COMPARISON ‘New laws will ensure that Scotland has the Uk’s most robust laws.’ www.drinkanddrugsnews.com HUMAN TOUCH HUmza YoUSaf. NEEDLE AND SYRINGE PROGRAMMES (NSPs) are a ‘highly cost-effective’ way of preventing hepatitis C transmission, according to research by the University of Bristol and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. With more than 90 per cent of new HCV infections acquired through injecting drugs, NSPs could save ‘million of pounds in treatment costs in the UK’, say researchers. NSPs ‘not only reduce the number of new HCV infections among people who inject drugs and improve their quality of life, they are also low-cost, excell - ent value for money and, in some areas, save money, which is good news for our cash- strapped local authorities,’ said co-lead author Dr Zoe Ward. Report at www.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/add .14519 February 2019 | drinkanddrugsnews | 5