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Press Releases

Take a look at a selection of our recent media coverage:

New treatment guidelines for alcohol dependence subject to UK-wide consultation

20th October 2023

A consultation on UK-wide guidelines for the clinical treatment of harmful drinking and alcohol dependence has been launched by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

Developed in partnership with the UKs devolved administrations, the guidelines include advice for alcohol care in acute hospitals as well as other settings such as primary care, community health services and the criminal justice system.

Patients with alcohol use disorder present to acute hospitals with a wide range of primary diagnoses and the presence of alcohol use disorder may not always be obvious to the patient or to clinical staff, the guidance states.

It therefore emphasises the need for hospitals to have staff with appropriate skills to identify alcohol use disorders, assess risk and provide specialist treatment interventions.

The importance of implementing a system for identifying health risk from alcohol and gauging the severity of alcohol use disorder among all hospital inpatients is also highlighted as this may impact a patients treatment, recovery and risk of complications.

The guidelines also outline key factors in dealing with acute or medically assisted alcohol withdrawal, managing associated complications and treating patients with co-occurring physical and mental health conditions, including those in crisis.

The need for a seamless transition to ongoing treatment in mental health and community services when discharged is also detailed, with integrated planning identified as a priority to ensure effective wrap-around care.

According to the DHSC, the main aim of the guidelines is to develop a ‘clearer consensus’ on good practice and how to implement NICE-recommended interventions.

The consultation will be open for eight weeks, inviting views from people working in alcohol treatment, the wider health and care sector and those with lived experience of alcohol dependence across the UK.

Neil O’Brien, minister for public health, said: ’This consultation will help us develop guidance to ensure alcohol treatment services are of consistently high quality, providing stronger pathways to recovery for those in need of treatment for alcohol dependence.’

In May, ministers were accused of not taking alcohol harm seriously enough after a new report revealed that over the last two decades the number of alcohol-related deaths rose by 89% and was continuing to rise sharply since the start of the pandemic.

Despite this, the report found that a ‘staggering’ 82% of dependent drinkers were not in treatment despite success rates of 60% and evidence that treatment delivers £3 of benefit for every £1 invested.

A version of this story was originally published by our sister publication Nursing in Practice.

UK Government launches major conditions strategy consultation

18th May 2023

Doctors are among those who have been asked to respond to a consultation ahead of the UK Government’s major conditions strategy set to publish later this year.

A call for evidence has been launched on how to prevent, diagnose, and manage six conditions that account for 60% of ill health and early deaths in England.

The online survey for individuals and organisations asks questions on what the priorities should be for cardiovascular disease – including stroke and diabetes – chronic respiratory diseases; dementia; and; musculoskeletal disorders. It will be open until the 27 June.

The Government said it wanted to see what impactful interventions can be adopted and scaled quickly – that is, in the next one to two years – how to improve outcomes for people with more than one condition and how to tackle gender, ethnic and geographical disparities, the evidence call said.

It will also look at how to best support those with multiple conditions, with one in four people having two or more of the major long-term conditions included in the strategy.

Ministers are particularly keen to hear from those who suffer from, care for or provide treatment to people who suffer from multiple long-term conditions as part of the consultation, as well as those working for the NHS, local government, voluntary and community sector.

For each major condition area, participants are asked to select up to three priorities: prevention, stopping or delaying progression, improving speed of diagnosis, improving urgent and emergency treatment, or improving non-urgent and long-term treatment and care.

Positive response

Plans for the major conditions strategy were first announced in January as being ‘critical’ to achieving the Government’s manifesto commitment of five extra years of healthy life expectancy by 2035, and to narrow the gap in healthy life expectancy by 2030.

Health and social care secretary Steve Barclay, said: ‘Patients often live with more than one major condition, so it’s vital that we do all we can to understand how best to manage their care.

‘I encourage patients, carers and healthcare professionals to contribute to our call for evidence so we can ensure our Major Conditions Strategy is as targeted and patient-focused as possible.’

Minister of state for social care Helen Whately added: ‘We want to hear from as many people as possible affected by these conditions in our call for evidence. It’ll help us join up care across the NHS and mean better treatment for millions of people.

‘It’s also really important that we hear from professionals working in areas like dementia or cancer too. Their frontline experience will be invaluable to make sure our strategy includes plans which will really work in practice.’

Samantha Benham-Hermetz, director of policy and public affairs at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: ‘Since the previous dementia strategy expired in 2020, the number of people living with the condition in the UK, and the challenges they face every day, have only continued to grow.’

She added that promising new treatments for early dementia were in development. ‘Bringing these into routine use will be challenging, and the major conditions strategy presents a huge opportunity to address these challenges and transform our health system,’ she said.

Sarah Woolnough, chief executive of Asthma + Lung UK, said: ‘Lung conditions are the third biggest killer in the UK, but historically haven’t received the attention they deserve, so the major conditions strategy is a big opportunity to change that.’

The Government said the views and ideas gathered will inform the priorities, content and actions in the major conditions strategy, which it will be publishing later this year. It will also publish an interim report in the summer.

10-year cancer plan

The Government has also published a summary of responses to its call for evidence on priorities for the 10-year cancer plan.

Most agreement was on the need to get people diagnosed quicker which 90% of individuals and 74% of professionals and organisations said should be a key focus over the next decade.

Suggested interventions included funding to expand the GP workforce and tackle geographical disparities to help people be seen sooner and training for GPs to recognise a wider range of symptoms.

Some respondents also called for GPs to listen better to patient concerns and act sooner ‘moving away from a culture of watch and wait’ as well as greater use of self-referral and at home tests for diagnostics.

A version of this story was originally published by our sister publication Pulse.