Alcohol questions at A&E

Nine out of 10 A&E units are failing to identify young people with alcohol problems, a new study has found.

Wednesday, 21st June 2017, 9:22 am
Updated Wednesday, 21st June 2017, 10:26 am
POSED BY MODEL. File photo dated 29/01/09 of a person drinking alcohol as twice as many young people living in the North East of England receive treatment for alcohol problems compared with the rest of the country, a study has found. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday May 7, 2012. Figures from health campaign group Balance show 118 of every 100,000 under 18s in the North East were treated for drink problems - double the national average. More than 600 of the 9,450 people receiving specialist alcohol treatment in the region in 2010/11 were under the age of 18, Balance said. The North East-based group is now calling for a review of alcohol advertising to help tackle 'harmful and hazardous' levels of drinking among young people. See PA story HEALTH Alcohol. Photo credit should read: David Jones/PA Wire

A survey of 147 A&E units found young people were not routinely asked about their alcohol consumption.

The study, conducted by researchers from the University of Surrey, also found those over 65 were not routinely asked about their drinking either.

But bosses at Wrightington, Wigan And Leigh NHS Foundation Trust said every patient there was asked, including the old and young.

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Carolyn Dereszkiewicz, head of nursing for scheduled care, said: “Every patient that comes into the hospital via the accident and emergency or the ambulatory assessment area is asked questions with regards to their daily/weekly alcohol intake, including other health and well-being questions such as their smoking status.

“If there is a high level of alcohol intake, the patients are referred to our alcohol specialist team and are encouraged to agree to meet with this service to support their health and well-being.

“In the cases where a patient is admitted with associated alcohol related disease, or is suffering from the effects of intoxication, they are seen by our alcohol specialist team on admission and also with follow-up visits on the wards throughout a Monday to Sunday period.

“If a patient is admitted overnight they will then be referred and reviewed by a member of alcohol specialist team the following morning either on the medical assessment units or the dedicated gastroenterology ward who will discuss support, treatment plans, advice on withdrawal from alcohol during their time in hospital and discharge support in the community.”

The Post previously reported that the number of young people admitted to hospital for alcohol-specific conditions in 2016 was 59.0 per 100,000 population, which compared to 40.1 for England.

The survey found more than 85 per cent of A&E units did not routinely ask young people about their alcohol consumption or use formal screening tools to identify those that may need help or advice about their drinking.

NICE guidelines suggest that screening and feedback is the most effective way to reduce alcohol-related harm.

A&E units were, however, found to be improving alcohol screening for adults, with more than 60 per cent routinely asking and using formal screening tools to ascertain alcohol consumption.

More than 80 per cent of A&Es had increased access to alcohol health workers/clinical nurse specialists since 2011, the study in the Emergency Medical Journal found.