Page last updated: Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Frontline NHS staff should be trained to tackle alcohol misuse in UK
Frontline NHS staff should be trained to tackle alcohol misuse in UK

Large amounts of money and resources would be saved if all frontline NHS staff had basic knowledge about the social and physical ill effects of alcohol misuse, say Robin Touquet and Alex Paton in a recent BMJ article.

Research carried out by the emergency department team at St Mary’s Hospital London has shown that routine clinical staff can be trained to detect potential alcohol problems and to offer brief advice, with support from an alcohol health worker in the hospital. This approach is cost effective.

Studies have also shown that alcohol problems are under detected in general practice, and the authors suggest closer liaison between general practitioners and local voluntary alcohol agencies, wider availability of alcohol workers, and alcohol clinics in general practices. They also suggest that all general hospitals should have a senior consultant with an interest in alcohol misuse. Yet a recent review found that only 21 acute hospital trusts in England had an alcohol health worker.

If all frontline staff had basic knowledge about the social and physical ill effects of and the detection of alcohol misuse, and the benefits of brief advice and liaison with alcohol health workers, problems would be tackled far earlier - often preventing the development of dependence -and large amounts of money would be saved, they write. The new two-year foundation training for junior doctors offers an important opportunity to develop such knowledge.

Source: Frontline NHS Staff Should Be Trained To Tackle Alcohol Misuse, UK , R Touquet. BMJ Volume 333 pp 510-11

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