Long-awaited alcohol strategy under attack

The long-awaited alcohol misuse strategy, published on
Tuesday, has been attacked for failing to tackle the chronic lack
of investment in treatment services, writes Sally

Chief executive of social care charity Turning Point Victor
Adebowale said the document “gives little concrete hope of
speedier, more effective treatment to the people who want to deal
with their alcohol dependence”.

“This is small comfort for the families of the 13 people
who will die today, as every day, as a direct result of alcohol
misuse,” he added.

Research by the charity found that almost 60 per cent of
dependent drinkers faced delays in accessing services. On average
they waited four months for treatment, but in some cases 18

Six times the number of people is dependent on drink as class A
drugs yet only one fifth of the funding for treatment
The strategy includes a national audit of alcohol treatment
services to identify gaps in provision, and give better help for
vulnerable groups such as drug misusers and homeless people.

But chief executive of Alcohol Concern Eric Appleby said the
strategy, which has been six years in the making, did not address
the “developing crisis” in treatment services.

“A future audit does nothing for current underfunding and
undercapacity. An interim initiative for the period until the audit
is complete is an absolute necessity. We will be pushing hard for
this,” he said.

The government estimates that alcohol misuse costs around
£20 billion a year and places a huge strain on the health
service, including over 30,000 hospital admissions a year, 22,000
deaths and at weekends up to 70 per cent of A&E admissions are
due to alcohol.

Other measures in the strategy:

*  Improve education for under-16s, who are drinking twice the
amount they were a decade ago

*  The drinks industry will be expected to print ‘sensible
drinking’ information on bottles.

*  Councils will be expected to lead partnerships with the
police, the drinks industry and licensing panels, which will run a
‘Code of Good Conduct Scheme’ for retailers pubs and
clubs aimed at reducing alcohol-related crime in town centres and
underage drinking.

Reduction Strategy for England’

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