Reducing alcohol harm: health services in England for alcohol misuse, forty-seventh report of session 2008-09, report, together with formal minutes, oral and written evidence

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Stationery Office, Jul 30, 2009 - Education - 53 pages
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Alcohol misuse is a significant and growing problem in England, with more than 10million people now regularly drinking above the guidelines set by Government. Alcoholmisuse places a considerable burden on the National Health Service (NHS), costing anestimated 2.7 billion per year. Between midnight and 5am on weekend nights nearly three-quarters of all attendances at accident and emergency (A&E) departments are alcohol-related. In 2004, alcohol harm became subject to a national government strategy. Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) are responsible for determining local health priorities andhave control over the majority of NHS spending. PCTs are free to decide for themselveshow much to spend on services to address alcohol harm. Many PCTs, however, do notknow what they spend on such services and across England there is little correlationbetween need and expenditure. Where services are commissioned there is frequently a lack of performance monitoring and examination of whether what is provided representsvalue for money. In 2008, the Department introduced a number of new measures designed to help address alcohol harm: providing extra funding for GPs to screen new patients; increasing alcohol specific training for doctors, and creating 20 pilot sites designed to improve specialist treatment services. The Department has, however, yet to demonstrate its ability to effectively influence local commissioners, the drinks industry, and people's drinking behaviour. The Department also needs to work more closely with the other government departments which are responsible for policies affecting alcohol consumption, such as taxation and licensing. Achieving this will be necessary if the Department is to reduce levels of alcohol harm and succeed against the PSA indicator.

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