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Call For Alcohol Liaison Officer In Every NHS Hospital

Posted Sep 08 2009 10:24pm

A senior emergency consultant has today announced his plea for the NHS to assign an alcohol liaison officer in every A&E department to give support and advice to patients being admitted with an alcohol related problem.

Dr Zul Mirza, president of the Royal Society of Medicine’s Emergency Medicine Section advised that patients are at their most vulnerable when they come into casualty after a drink fuelled accident or binge, making them more susceptible to advice on how to truly address the issue in hand and take action.

Dr Mirza has suggested to the Society today, that his proposed plan could significantly tackle the problem by cutting admission and problem drinking.

Dr Mirza, a consultant at the West Middlesex Hospital in London, added that there is evidence gathered from America and Scotland to suggest that patients are unlikely to need admitted to hospital on a further occasion after an alcohol binge, if they have been offered supportive advice the first time round from a liaison officer. In addition they were likely to cut down on their drinking the following year.

“There is a window of opportunity where these patients are receptive to changing their patterns of drinking and understanding more about alcohol,”Dr Mirza told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“It is a teachable moment because it is a very brief period where they are receptive and susceptible to understanding they have a problem.

“The research shows that a lot of these patients who arrive in emergency departments don’t realise that the reason they are there is because they have an alcohol problem.”

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