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More help could be on way for heavy drinkers

Moves to improve ‘appalling’ services for people with alcohol problems look likely in West Sussex, amid concerns over the impact on hospitals.
The West Sussex health overview and scrutiny committee was told a review of the services would follow a new five-year strategic commissioning plan for health services, to be unveiled soon by the West Sussex Primary Care Trust.

PCT director of strategy Sarah Creamer was questioned about poor provision for alcohol-related problems throughout the county.

She said alcohol-related admissions to hospital had nearly doubled over the five-year period up to 2006-07.

“This is a national trend, but something which we want to understand in greater detail in West Sussex, and then react to,” she told the committee.

A report presented at the meeting said alcohol misuse was a growing problem among young people, with a survey showing among Year 10 pupils – 14- and 15-year-olds – 12 per cent of boys and 13 per cent of girls were regular binge drinkers.

A local survey of 16- to 24-year-olds attending further education colleges found 30 per cent of boys and 19 per cent of girls said they were regular binge drinkers.

Cllr James Walsh said no-one in the health community was surprised by increased alcohol-related admissions, because of the culture in which alcohol was being increasingly used.

“But prevention and treatment facilities in West Sussex have been appalling in the 35 years I have been a GP,” he added.

“There are only two detox beds for the whole of West Sussex, which is unbelievably low and which will do nothing to deal with acute alcohol intoxication, which gums up hospital beds from time to time, at huge cost to the health services.”

Ms Creamer said having alcohol services included in the new commissioning plan would force a review of them.

This was something the acute hospital services were keen to see the PCT focus on, because of the impact on accident and emergency departments.
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source: Shoreham Today

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