The government has allocated £3.2 million as part of a Programme of Improvement to help projects catch alcohol problems at an early stage.
The money has been given to new initiatives which will help identify and intervene early on with people whose alcohol consumption may be damaging their health.
Public health minister Caroline Flint said: “The projects that we are investing in today will encourage health professionals to intervene at the earliest possible stage to help people who may be causing harm to themselves or others through alcohol misuse.”
“The tools being developed for health organisations,” she said, “will provide practical information to I prove treatment services. This will help GPs identify patients with alcohol problems and allow them to get the support and advice that they need.”
As part of the programme of Improvement an audit of treatment, which gives a national picture of trends of alcohol misuse and the availability of alcohol treatment services throughout the country, was also published.
It found that:
• There were low levels of identification, treatment and referral of patients with alcohol use disorders by GPs
• GPs tended to under-identify young patients with alcohol use disorders compared to older patients
• An estimated annual spend on specialist alcohol treatment is £217 million.
As part of the Programme of Improvement, tools are being developed to help primary care trusts improve the services for problem drinkers by providing practical steps and best practice examples o delivering treatment to those who need it.
The Department of Health will also hold nine regional conferences from January 2006 to discuss with health providers how to use the programme of Improvement to best effect in each area.