Alcohol harm reduction is a priority for the Cheshire & Merseyside Health Care Partnership and the NHS Long Term Plan. Through collaborative work with partners across the whole system, the programme will deliver targeted prevention initiatives to help improve lives and ultimately achieve a reduction in alcohol-specific admissions to hospital.
Why is it important?
Among those aged 15 to 49 in England, alcohol is now the leading risk factor for ill-health, early mortality and disability, and the fifth leading risk factor for ill health across all age groups.
Alcohol is the most common cause of liver disease in England and accounts for over a third of liver disease deaths. The national hospital admission rate for alcoholic liver disease has increased steadily over the past 10 years, with the Cheshire & Merseyside rate being significantly worse over the whole period
In Cheshire and Merseyside over a quarter (26.5%) of the adult population consume alcohol at levels above the UK Chief Medical Officers guidelines, increasing their risk of alcohol-related ill health.
Before the pandemic it was estimated that alcohol misuse across Cheshire and Merseyside cost around £994 million each year (£412 per head of population) across the NHS, social services, crime and licensing, and the workplace. This has risen in line with the increasing trend of alcohol related harms locally and nationally
What are we doing?
Work is underway in the following areas:
- Education and supervision for Alcohol Care Teams (ACTs) – Developing a common Alcohol Competency Programme to improve workforce alcohol-prevention capabilities, within Alcohol Care Teams and the wider system..
- Alcohol Harm Dashboard – Creation of a Cheshire and Merseyside alcohol harm-reduction dashboard to identify variation in key metrics across the area and enable the targeting of activities to improve care and outcomes.
- Lower My Drinking’ app – Providing a digital alcohol IBA (Identification and Brief Advice) resource to promote early detection and intervention for people drinking at higher risk and harmful levels.
- Working with local, regional and national partners on advocacy for key areas of public policy including Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP), marketing, and public health as a licensing objective.
- Research and development – Linking with related system partners to proactively identify research and development opportunities, from NIHR and other funding sources, with a view addressing the gap in activity, in areas (like ours) where prevalence is high.
- Community Engagement in Licensing – Development of a website and toolkit to support people to resolve issues with licenced premises in their area. The link for the website is alcohollicensing.org.uk. This has been accompanied by training for key local stakeholders such as councillors and Citizens Advice.
- Liver health checks for early detection of disease – Piloting liver health checks in a variety of settings from Emergency Departments to Probation Services, and a Housing Association, where we see some of our highest levels of inequalities and alcohol harms.
- Alcohol and mental health – Piloting an approach to strengthening collaboration between alcohol and mental health services to support patient focused care and reduce health inequalities for those with co-occurring mental health needs and alcohol use disorder.
- Blue Light Approach – Implementing the multi-agency ‘Blue Light Approach which focusses on identifying and supporting dependent drinkers who are resistant to change (and often have complex lives / are homeless.).
- Physical activity interventions – Supporting people to improve their mental and physical health, wellbeing, and reduce their alcohol intake through physical activity interventions.
The work is led by the C&M Alcohol Prevention Board which has representation from local authorities, health and wider system partners. The Group meets every quarter.
The Director of Public Health lead for the ‘Reduction of Harm From Alcohol’ programme is Margaret Jones at Sefton Council.
The Clinical Lead is Dr Paul Richardson,
Consultant Hepatologist, Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Honorary Associate Clinical Professor of Hepatology
PROACT Competencies Framework PROgram for Alcohol Care Teams – published October 2021.
PROACT Competencies Framework PROgram for Band 4 Alcohol Care Teams – Published December 2022
PROACT Competencies Framework PROgram for Community Providers – Published December 2022
PROACT Quality Statements for Alcohol Care Teams in Acute Hospitals – Published December 2022