Page last updated at 13:09 GMT, Monday, 21 December 2009

Nurses to offer patients advice on alcohol intake

Woman drinking a pint (generic)
Excessive drinking is a major cause of illness in Wales

Nurses are to advise patients about their drinking habits as part of a scheme to tackle binge drinking.

Patients who return to hospital for treatment after a drink-related injury will receive advice from nurses about their alcohol intake.

The assembly government-led scheme will start across Wales in February.

The chief nursing officer for Wales said the binge-drinking culture was "getting worse" and this could help reduce long term damage to health.

A recent report suggested 1,000 deaths each year in Wales are linked to alcohol misuse.

Research by Professor Jonathan Shepherd, of Cardiff university's violence research group, has found it is possible to detect alcohol misuse and treat it using "brief interventions when patients with injuries return to hospital".

Binge-drinking culture is getting worse in Wales
Rosemary Kennedy, chief nursing officer for Wales

He said: "Excessive drinking is a major cause of illness, injury, and behavioural problems in Wales.

"The chief medical officer for Wales' latest annual report found that some 45,000 hospital admissions and 1,000 deaths every year in Wales are linked to alcohol misuse.

"One way to address this is through brief interventions. Hospital treatment can be a sobering experience for people and evidence shows that people are more receptive to healthcare messages when they are delivered in a clinical setting."

The initiative, which is part of a partnership between NHS Wales and Cardiff University, is designed to target drinkers who do not need specialist alcohol treatment but whose drinking is likely to eventually damage their health.

Nurses who work in trauma and maxillofacial clinics are being encouraged to be trained to provide the advice.

'Increasing burden'

Chief medical officer for Wales Dr Tony Jewell said the assembly government's substance misuse strategy had provided the impetus for the development.

"In my recent letter to the service I highlighted the need to educate people about the health risks associated with exceeding safe drinking limits and make sure the health service takes this opportunity to engage fully in this training programme."

Rosemary Kennedy, chief nursing officer for Wales said: "Binge-drinking culture is getting worse in Wales.

"Evidence-based interventions will help reduce the long-term damage from excessive drinking and the increasing burden on the NHS."



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