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Nurses to lead front-line campaign to cut alcohol related injuries

Thursday, 10 January 2013
Public Health Wales has teamed up with Cardiff University, the Welsh Government, and Cardiff and Vale University Health Board to deliver an innovative campaign to cut the growing tide of binge drinking and alcohol related injuries across Wales.
alcohol-related injuriesWith a steady increase in alcohol-related hospital admission over the past 10 years, the ‘Have a Word’ campaign was launched on 10 January to deliver a sustainable alcohol brief intervention programme nationally.
The all-Wales initiative is set to be rolled out across the NHS in Wales.  Present at the launch event, held in Cardiff’s Temple of Peace and Health, were Lesley Griffiths AM, Minister for Health and Social Services, and Professor Jonathan Shepherd CBE at Cardiff University, whose award-winning research has informed the development of the programme.

Trials conducted at the Violence Research Group at Cardiff University by nurses working with facial stitch removal following alcohol-related injury, demonstrated that opportunistic brief interventions could garner considerable success. The results showed significant long-term reductions in drinking for 1 in 4 people, who had previously consumed alcohol at hazardous levels.

The ‘Have a Word’ training uses a 20-second waiting room-based screening technique in which nurses will be able to identify patients who drink excessively. If the patient scores high on the screening then this would indicate hazardous drinking and should prompt a brief intervention.

A brief intervention is a structured conversation between the patient and the nurse, designed to motivate the patient to change their drinking behaviour. The aims are to prompt the patient to recognise the harm which their drinking has caused, especially the wound being treated; to review their drinking; to set themselves drinking limits and to make and act on decisions to reduce their hazardous drinking.

Research by Professor Jonathan Shepherd, Director of the Violence and Society Research Group and Professor of Oral and Maxillofacial surgery at Cardiff University’s School of Dentistry has shown that alcohol consumption has risen by 19% since 1980 and a quarter of England’s adult population now drink at hazardous levels.

Alcohol-related conditions cost the NHS £2.7 billion annually, and in Wales alone, alcohol health problems cost the NHS £70-£85 million per year.
Professor Shepherd said: “Recognising the need for effective and efficient training programmes for nurses, we have developed this dedicated two-hour brief intervention course which has been accredited by the Royal College of Nursing and Agored Cymru. The initiative establishes screening and brief interventions as a routine part of nursing practice in all maxillofacial and trauma clinics in Wales.

“Controlled trials have indicated that on average, for every eight people drinking at hazardous levels who receive an alcohol brief intervention (see video), one will reduce their drinking to within safe drinking limits.”

Lesley Griffiths AM, Minister for Health and Social Services, said: Every week in Wales, 1,200 hospital admissions are attributed to alcohol. We know the cost to the NHS in Wales and the cost to people’s health is enormous. I am delighted to launch this campaign.

Dr Sarah Jones, Consultant in Public Health at Public Health Wales said: “Alcohol misuse has been identified as the third most important risk factor for ill health in Europe after tobacco and high blood pressure.

“Drinking at these excessive levels contributes to a range of medical conditions including cancers, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, gastro-intestinal diseases, neuropsychiatric disorders as well as accidental injury and violence.”
The initiative is the product of a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) between Cardiff University, the Welsh Government and Public Health Wales, the first such partnership which involves a UK government. The programme, delivered by Public Health Wales, is aimed at professionals across primary and social care including GPs and Youth Workers.
For more information, visit the Violence and Society Research Group webpage and search #haveaword on twitter.
For more information on alcohol, please visit the Public Health Wales alcohol misuse pages.
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