22 October 2014
Project will develop effective treatment pathway to support higher-risk drinkers to reduce their consumption and improve their health
Wessex Academic Health Science Network (Wessex AHSN) and Lundbeck Ltd have announced a Joint Working Agreement to reduce alcohol-related harm in Wessex. The innovative project will engage with local commissioners to develop and evaluate effective treatment pathways for patients with increasing and higher risk drinking levels. The service redesign for primary and hospital care aims to not only improve patients’ health, but also to reduce unnecessary NHS spend.
Alcohol consumption is a major health service priority, accounting for around 10% of the UK’s burden of disease. It is one of the main risk factors for disease and death in the UK, after poor nutrition, smoking and obesity. Dr Julia Sinclair, Associate Professor in Psychiatry at the University of Southampton and a clinical lead for Wessex AHSN said, “Levels of drinking in parts of Wessex are well above the national average; thousands of people are putting their health at risk by drinking too much alcohol. Through this partnership, we intend to change the approach to dealing with alcohol health harms, to ensure that patients are identified and cared for appropriately.”
Alcohol related harm consumes nearly £2.7 billion per year of the NHS budget, equating to nearly £238 million across Dorset, Hampshire and Wiltshire. Yet, recognition of higher-risk and dependent drinkers is poor; estimated by the Alcohol Needs Assessment Research Project (ANARP ) study to be approximately 1 in 70 of increasing risk drinkers and 1 in 20 of patients with alcohol dependence. Primary care practitioners will be supported to identify and treat the underlying cause when patients with higher risk alcohol use present with common symptoms such as depression, anxiety and stomach complaints.
Through the working agreement, the Joint Working Group aim to:
Martin Stephens, CEO at Wessex AHSN commented, “This is an exciting opportunity to make a difference to the health of people at higher risk of harm from alcohol consumption. In improving their health and care, we’ll also reduce hospital admissions, reduce length of stay and cut NHS expenditure in alcohol-related services. We are working in partnership with organisations, commissioners and Public Health across Wessex to improve the evidence base and to develop new pathways to innovative treatment.”
Steve Turley, Managing Director at Lundbeck Ltd said, “We are excited to be working in partnership with Wessex AHSN to support the development and evaluation of brief treatment pathways within Wessex to improve patient outcomes and help achieve national objectives to reduce the impact of alcohol-related harm on wider NHS services.”
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* WHO (World Health Organization) classifies drinking risk levels (DRLs) into low, medium, high and very high, where high risk is defined as daily alcohol consumption above 60g for men and above 40g for women. This equates to 7.5 units per day (three pints of 4.4% beer) for men and five units per day (two standard 175ml glasses of 13% wine) for women.