Ways to reduce alcohol harm are to be discussed at a meeting of Nottingham City’s Health and Wellbeing Board today (28 November).

Making sure people have the right information and advice and having ‘alcohol champions’ are being suggested as part of an eight-point plan to reduce the number of people whose lives are affected alcohol.

Alcohol harm represents a huge public health burden in Nottingham, with more people having poor health conditions, road accidents and hospital admissions due to alcohol than the national average in England.

A report to the Health and Wellbeing Board shows:

  • More people are dependent on alcohol in Nottingham (2.2% compared to 1.4% in England)
  • More years of life are lost in Nottingham due to alcohol-related conditions (843 per 100,000 compared to 624 per 100,000 in England)
  • There are more alcohol-related road traffic accidents (51.6 per 1,000 compared to 26.5 per 1,000 in England)
  • More people are admitted to hospital for alcohol-related conditions in Nottingham (1,000 per 100,000 compared to 647 per 100,000 for England)

Members of the Board will discuss whether there could be a more systematic approach to Alcohol Identification and Brief Advice and consider who could work as ‘alcohol champions’ within the city.

Cllr Sam Webster, Portfolio Holder for Adult Social Care and Heath in Nottingham and Chair of the Nottingham City Health and Wellbeing Board, said: “The facts make for stark reading. Tackling alcohol harm should be a major priority for our city.

“Drinking excessive alcohol is leading to earlier deaths, poorer health and more people being admitted to hospital.

“But it’s really important when we talk about alcohol harm that we move past the stereotypical image of ‘hardened drinkers’ or alcoholics – this is also about ‘normal’ people drinking too much alcohol every week in their 30s, 40s and 50s and becoming unwell many years earlier than they would otherwise have done. This has a huge impact on their ability to live well, independently for longer. What people don’t realise is that alcohol harm doesn’t necessarily mean less life expectancy, but it means living longer with serious health conditions and illnesses.

“We have to take action – but a problem on this scale needs a city-wide response. All members of the Health and Wellbeing Board need to get behind the eight-point plan of action.”

The eight-point plan of action to reduce alcohol harm is:

  1. Increase people’s understanding of the risk and harm
  2. Advocate for changes to national and local policy (such as minimum pricing)
  3. A more consistent approach to Alcohol Identification and Brief Advice
  4. Identify ‘alcohol champions’ across the health and social care system
  5. Include alcohol as a priority for employee health and wellbeing
  6. Better communication between partners
  7. Identifying and working with people regularly attending A&E
  8. Agreeing and embedding pathways for people with both mental health and substance misuse issues

Dr Hugh Porter, GP and Vice Chair of the Health and Wellbeing Board, said: “We’re seeing more and more people suffering from the effects of excessive alcohol – and, in particular, a lack of knowledge about what is a safe level of alcohol for a person to drink each week.

“People need to know the facts, however stark, about what alcohol can do to long-term health. I’m pleased that the Health and Wellbeing Board is discussing how to take forward this plan of action.”

Alcohol guidelines suggest men and women should drink no more than 14 units of alcohol a week – the equivalent of six pints of average strength beer or seven glasses of wine – in order to keep their health risks low.

Alcohol advice in Nottingham is available from the Nottingham Recovery Network (www.nottinghamrecoverynetwork.com), a service funded by Nottingham City Council that provides a single point of advice, support and treatment for anyone in Nottingham City who wishes to change their relationship with alcohol or drugs.

The full Health and Wellbeing Board Report on alcohol harm can be found here. The Board meeting takes place at Loxley House on Wednesday 28 November at 2pm.