New skills framework launched to support Alcohol Care Teams across the subregion

In Cheshire and Merseyside, 26.5% of the adult population consume alcohol at levels above the UK Chief Medical Officer’s lower-risk guidelines, and alcohol misuse contributes to 200 health conditions leading to hospital admission, due either to acute alcohol intoxication or to the toxic effect of alcohol misuse over time.

Alcohol misuse rates for the most deprived are more than double those for the least deprived, with people living in deprivation being over-represented in hospitals. Alcohol Care Teams (ACTs) are often the first services to identify alcohol problems and are therefore well placed to carry out early identification and initiate treatment.

A competencies and skills framework designed to support ACTs across Cheshire and Merseyside hospitals has been developed and will be delivered to dozens of alcohol specialist nurses, starting with nine education and training sessions taking place throughout October and November.

The Competencies Framework PROgram for Alcohol Care Teams (PROACT) was developed by the Collaborative in partnership with the Cheshire and Merseyside Health and Care Partnership, and ACTs across the subregion. Senior clinical leadership was provided by Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Southport & Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust.

The Framework is designed to upskill staff and was developed following an audit of current hospital practices which included site visits and interviews with staff to identify skills gaps against new national standards.

Dr Lynn Owens, PROACT Workstream Lead and Strategic Lead for the Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust Alcohol Care Team, said:

“Alcohol Care Teams play a vital role in hospitals, identifying individuals with alcohol problems and ensuring access to essential treatment, reducing the likelihood of future ill-health and helping to improve the lives of patients and their families.

“Following engagement with ACTs across Cheshire and Merseyside, it became clear that some skills to deliver interventions, known to reduce bed days were lacking and that staff were passionate about developing their knowledge to deliver better services for patients.

“In partnership with leading experts across the health and care system, we have developed a competency skills framework for use by all ACTs across the subregion and will deliver this through a series of training sessions, providing teams with the skills and knowledge needed to better enable them to support people to live better quality lives.”