Alcohol specialist nurses key to tackling rising admissions

Alcohol nurse specialist Kerry Lyons helps run a nurse-led alcohol service in Tameside which has seen a detoxification success rate of 84%.

An award-winning nurse has highlighted the vital role of alcohol specialist nurses and the need to ‘refocus’ to prevent alcohol-related disease and hospital admissions.

 NHS Digital revealed alcohol-related admissions reached an increase of 64% in
England over the past decade. Picture: John Houlihan

Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care Organisation service lead for the hospital alcohol liaison service Kerry Lyons told Nursing Standard prevention and management of alcohol harm was governed by a ‘funding postcode lottery’.

The alcohol specialist nurse made the comments following recent NHS Digital showing alcohol-related admissions at a record high – a increase of 64% in England over the past decade.

An additional 430,000 people were admitted due to alcohol-related causes in 2015/16 compared with 2005/06, taking the total number of admissions to over 1.1 million in 2015/16.

Significant burden

Ms Lyons warned: ‘It is important to address the significant burden this is placing on our already overstretched health and social care economy. 

‘National policy needs to reflect the escalating concerns identified in recent research in respect of rising hospital admissions amidst a steady year-on-year increase in alcohol-related liver disease. 

‘It feels that after early UK progress, we have lost the impetus required to continue to move forward.

‘The prevention and management of alcohol harm nationally is sadly governed by a funding postcode lottery, with some areas having excellent pathways and full liaison teams and many others having little to no access to specialist alcohol education, screening and intervention.

‘We are lacking a national focus on the need to prevent potential and actual, alcohol-related harm.

Key enabler

‘This current situation is one that is not set to go away, and will certainly further escalate if not addressed.

‘The role of the alcohol specialist nurse still remains a key enabler to securing the changes required.’

Separate data released by the Office of National Statistics shows that 7.8 million people admit to binge drinking on their heaviest drinking day despite figures showing the proportion of adults drinking is at its lowest level since 2005.

Chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance (AHA) Sir Ian Gilmore said the figures showed the UK continues to have a ‘dysfunctional relationship with alcohol’.

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