England Failing to Tackle Alcohol Epidemic
New research has found massive cuts to alcohol rehab services have led to major shortcomings in tackling the alcohol epidemic of England.
A research conducted by King’s College scientists and published in BMJ found:
- More than £100m has been cut since services in England were reorganised in 2012.
- On average, alcohol and other drug services in England had lost approximately 30% of their budgets since 2013-14, when they were handed over to local authority control.
- People with alcohol problems in England are less than half as likely to receive the right help as those in Scotland and Wales.
- In Scotland and Wales, where there has been investment in alcohol treatment services, people with alcohol dependency are 2.5 times more likely to have access to specialist treatment than those in England.
- In England hospital admissions for alcohol-related conditions have risen 17% in the past decade.
- Inpatient detox support had been cut by 54% since 2011-12.
- Specialist community support had been reduced by 22% since 2013-14.
The services that are being cut have a strong evidence base of effectiveness and cost effectiveness,” said Colin Drummond, professor of addiction services at King’s College, as per BBC.
For every £1 you spend on treatment, you save over £3 in NHS and social care costs, so cutting these services is a false economy.”
In separate research published earlier this month, the same team found alcohol-related conditions in NHS hospitals were approximately 20-30 times higher than official government statistics suggested.
Central government public health grant cuts to blame
Councils in England say central government grant cuts are to blame for the reduction of addiction and rehab services.
The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents councils in England, called on the new prime minister Boris Johnson to use the upcoming spending review to reverse cuts to local authority budgets.
In particular, the LGA says, public health grants, which, among other things, fund community alcohol and other drugs services, have been reduced by £700m in real terms since 2015-16.
NHS plan to invest in alcohol care teams in acute hospitals is not enough
NHS England announced earlier this year that as part of its 10-year plan for the NHS, it wanted to create alcohol care teams (ACTs) in the 25% of hospitals with the highest rates of alcohol-related admissions.
Professor Drummond from King’s College says that is not nearly ambitious enough “in tackling what is evidently a national epidemic”.
Given the prevalence of these conditions within NHS hospitals across England, as a first step an ACT in every hospital would appear warranted, not merely the top 25%,” said Colin Drummond, professor of addiction services at King’s College, as per BBC.