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British Medical Journal report prompts more calls for alcohol treatment resourcing

Further calls have been made this week for more resourcing for the NHS to support recovery from what has been classed ‘a national epidemic’ of alcohol-related problems.

A British Medical Journal report pointed to funding cuts of £100 million in England, an average of 30% per service, since 2012. 

We at Port of Call welcome these new calls and hope they begin to resonate. We spend our days taking calls from people desperate to find help and treatment.

“People are left not knowing where to turn”

Port of Call founder Martin Preston said: “Almost all of our callers have already had some contact with NHS services, but found the intensity and immediacy of support was not available. 

“It often means that despite people being motivated to address their alcohol issue, they are left not knowing where to turn and things continue to get worse.”

The British Medical Journal report said since 2006 the number of NHS specialist addiction consultants has almost halved (a 47% drop).

Port of Call recently issued a number of Freedom of Information requests to highlight the scale of readmissions of patients with alcohol problems to NHS hospitals.

New data recently obtained by Port of Call shows 441 patients admitted for alcohol-related reasons by City Hospitals Sunderland Foundation Trust in 2017/18 had previously been an inpatient for a drink-related cause. There were a total of 3,115 admissions for alcohol-related reasons. That means more than one in ten of the admissions was of a patient who had previously been admitted due to alcohol-related reasons.

“Readmissions could be avoided”

Martin said: “Some re-admissions will be unavoidable, but if more resources were available to NHS hospital staff during an admission and for them to refer to in the community, I’m sure many of those readmissions could be avoided. That would be life changing for the individuals involved and their families and lead to a vastly reduced burden on the NHS in the long term.” 

NHS England has included in its 10-year plan an intention to create specialist Alcohol Care Teams in the 25% of hospitals with the highest rates of alcohol admissions.

Addiction specialists Emmert Roberts and Colin Drummond, in their jointly penned British Medical Journal report, said: “While we welcome this as a step in the right direction, we do not think it goes far enough in tackling what is evidently a national epidemic.”

There were 1.2 million hospital admissions relating to alcohol in 2017/18 and the rate has been rising since 2008.

A recent Port of Call Attitudes to Addiction study demonstrated that the majority of people do not realise how big a problem alcohol is within our society. Only one in four said they thought alcohol was the biggest problem substance in the UK right now, with 56% choosing another named substance such as cocaine, cannabis or legal highs.

Port of Call provides free help and advice regarding alcohol and addiction treatment services in the UK. We’re here for individuals who are suffering and those who care about them. Contact us by phone, text or email.

About the author: Alex Molyneux

Alex is our admissions team leader. Over the last 5 years he has spoken with more than 10,000 people via our helpline and has organised over 1,000 detox and rehabilitation placements.

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