80 'drunks' turning up at A&E each day
ALL patients treated at North Staffordshire's A&E unit will be asked to fill in a 'booze blog' as part of a new crackdown on problem drinking.
It comes after new figures show a staggering 80 people a day are showing up at the accident unit with conditions caused by alcohol.
The toll is estimated to be costing already-stretched local NHS budgets nearly £2 million a year – as well as causing longer delays for other patients whose illnesses or injuries have not been brought on by heavy drinking.
Doctors and nurses at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire emergency department are to invite all 100,000 casualties they see a year to fill in questionnaires on their drinking habits.
****Best Deals**** Van Insurance for 17-24 Yr Old Drivers - Contact Insure365 on 01782 898188 for a quotation, Free Legal Protection Included Valued at £25.00!
Terms: 1 Voucher Per Customer
Contact: 01782 898188
Valid until: Tuesday, June 25 2013
Similar alcohol screening methods have already been introduced in GP surgeries but this is the biggest so far in a hospital setting, where officials estimate up to one in three A&E attendances is related to harmful drinking.
Armed with the responses, the staff will then discuss briefly any harmful drinking with the patients – and even direct them to more specialist help, if appropriate.
The initiative is part of a programme to reduce the amount of harm done by excess drinking, which in Stoke-on-Trent is is way above the national average, and also relatively high in Newcastle and the Staffordshire Moorlands.
It is aimed at the rising numbers of people needing emergency treatment for liver disease brought on by years of heavy drinking as well as those injured in fights, falls or simply collapsing from too much alcohol.
A&E consultant Dr Mark Ragoo said: "It's vital we raise awareness of harmful drinking with those patients that attend the A&E department.
"In Stoke-on-Trent, we have a higher rate of alcohol-related deaths than the national average, as well as big numbers of hospital admissions from alcoholic liver disease.
"Our patients may not realise they are drinking harmfully and therefore increasing their risk of ill health. As clinicians, we need to be confident to speak to them about the dangers they are putting themselves in.
"We need to make the best of every opportunity to try to reduce illness and save lives.
"This includes promoting the benefits of healthy living or asking individuals about their lifestyle and changes they may wish to make.
"We know that many people want to take action to reduce their alcohol consumption – so this scheme puts our staff on hand to give information or refer patients to the support they need."
The new screening programme, called Every Contact Counts, was welcomed by the hospital's union leaders.
Unison branch secretary Rob Irving said: "I think this is a great initiative. Anything to raise awareness among people in A&E over the harm they do to themselves can only be good.
"I don't know the details yet but I would imagine it will be only a brief form and so it should have no impact on the staff's workload."
Earlier this month, The Sentinel reported how city centre bars faced being forced to shut hours earlier in a joint council and police crackdown on night-time violence and injuries caused by excessive drinking.