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Clinics urged to offer drink advice

6th April 2010

Hospital staff are being urged to play a key role in helping reduce levels of drinking.

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The Royal College of Surgeons of England wants nursing staff to offer advice on reducing drinking levels to people with alcohol-related injuries when they receive follow-up treatment at outpatient clinics.

It sees such a move as a great opportunity to motivate people to drink sensibly.

Figures show that some two million people attend accident and emergency departments with alcohol-related injuries every year while injury and death caused by alcohol misuse costs the NHS and other public services an estimated £20bn a year.

While offering advice to patients when they attend A&E or are still drunk is believed to have little impact, offering advice at follow-up consultations can be effective.

A trial scheme in Wales found that 24% more of those offered drinking advice at follow-up appointments were drinking less a year later.

Maxillofacial surgeon Jonathan Shepherd from the Royal College of Surgeons of England said: “I urge colleagues and hospital trusts to take the initiative now and engage with this group of patients before they become repeat visitors.

“By the time patients attend outpatient clinics for the removal of stitches, or other treatment, they have had time to reflect on the cause of their injuries, and this offers an excellent opportunity for clinic nurses to motivate them to drink sensibly.”

Such has moved has been backed by the College of Emergency Medicine while the Royal College of Nursing has recently accredited a training course to help nurses intervene at the right moment.

 

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