NHS Lothian has exceeded its target for alcohol brief interventions (ABIs) by almost 30%, according to statistics published by Information Services Division Scotland today (Tuesday 28 June 2011).
Alcohol consumption in Lothian is high; an estimated 30% of women and almost 40% of men drink over the recommended limits. An alcohol brief intervention is a short, structured conversation with a patient about their alcohol consumption. The aim is to motivate and help patients think about, or plan a change in, their drinking behaviours in order to reduce their alcohol intake.
The Scottish Government set targets for the number of ABIs carried out by health boards between 2008/2009 and 2010/2011. NHS Lothian’s target was 23,594 and GPs, midwives and other healthcare staff carried out a total of 29,884 during the three years – 6,290 more than the target.
Eleanor McWhirter, Alcohol Brief Interventions Lead for NHS Lothian said: “We are committed to reducing the number of people in Lothian who drink more than the recommended amount. The damage to people’s lives by alcohol use is evident in the increasing numbers being referred for treatment. As charge nurse in the Ritson Detoxification Clinic based at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, I saw the damage alcohol can do.
“Alcohol brief interventions provide a structured format to help raise awareness of the health risks of drinking too much and allows us to encourage and support individuals to reduce their alcohol intake.
“Our initial focus was to provide ABIs in primary care settings and based on our success in this area we have rolled out our ABI programme to the community maternity service and hospital A&E departments.
“We want to reach as many people as possible whose alcohol consumption is having, or is likely to have, a detrimental affect on their health, so we can help them reduce the long term risks.”
Alcohol has a significant impact on the health of the Scottish population. Scotland has the fastest growing liver cirrhosis rate in the world and one Scot dies every six hours as a result of an alcohol-related illness.