NHS losing grip on the alcohol problem

Wednesday 29th October, 2008

According to the National Audit Office, the NHS have underestimated the UK’s growing alcohol problem and as such have failed to co-ordinate services to help prevent it.

The report by the watchdog continues by calling upon GPs to reach out to those people suffering alcohol addiction in an effort to help out a National Health Service that is struggling to help them.

The Government however have denied this latest report saying that they are doing “more than ever” to tackle the country’s drinking problem.

Deaths from alcohol-related problems and diseases have now doubled since the 1990s to around 9,000 people per year with hospital admissions for conditions such as liver disease costing the NHS £2.7billion a year.

This latest report questioned Primary Care Trusts (PCTs), GPs and other professionals who provide alcohol related health services.

Results found that 25% of PCTs failed to carry out proper assessments of local problems. 40% had no alcohol prevention strategy in place and a third were unaware of the budgets in place to combat the problem. Of those PCTs who provided evidence of their spending, barely £600,000 (0.1% of the total budget) was being spent on average.

Responsibility was being placed on drug and alcohol addiction teams run with local councils but only targeted people who were classed as serious cases. Of those begin helped, counselling and detox were the main treatments.

The NAO were critical that this strategy was ignoring the 7 million estimated people who drink above the recommended daily allowance but were yet to see the harm this was doing to their health.

GPs have been recommended to advise patients on sensible drinking during consultations to deliver a wider approach to the escalating drinking problems. Campaign group ‘Alcohol Concern’ have called for an improvement in services to prevent costs to the NHS from spiralling out of control.

Once again, government policy, budgetary restrictions and mis-management are placing he nation’s health at risk. Local health care trusts are struggling to cope with an escalating problem. If you’re having problems with addiction (alcohol or drugs) and are looking for alternative treatments to help, you can find out more about it here.



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