Pennine Lancashire has been identified as an area of significant risk around alcohol use with over 2700 alcohol related hospital admissions each year. From 2018-2019 approximately 6,852 alcohol dependant adults were identified across the area and it is expected that this figure will have increased during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
ELHT have recently appointed Laura Walker as Lead Nurse for Alcohol who will be responsible for the recruitment and management of the new Alcohol Care Team (ACT). Laura is a qualified Mental Health Nurse and is looking forward to making a real difference. She said: “I have worked with people who use alcohol and drugs for over 20 years, both in community treatment and acute settings.”
“I feel very fortunate to have been given this opportunity to help shape the Alcohol Care team with ELHT, supported by local partners such as the Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG’s) and national charity, Change, Grow, Live (CGL), who specialise in substance misuse. I have been genuinely warmed by the level of interest, support and collaborative working across Pennine Lancashire.”
The NHS Long Term Plan (LTP) contains ambitious objectives to step up efforts in prevention, by detecting alcohol disease early and preventing deterioration of health. It aims to improve quality of life through deploying ACT’s in Hospitals that are disproportionately affected by alcohol.
Dominic Harrison, Director of Public Health for Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council added: “It is great news that we are receiving additional investment and capacity locally to support local unmet alcohol needs, particularly the relationship and interface between acute and community treatment interventions.”
“This comes at a time of significant increases in terms of alcohol liver deaths locally and nationally. Alcohol misuse appears to have increased further in areas affected by health inequalities during the pandemic.
“This additional funding goes some way in our efforts to recover from the pandemic as well as reverse significant health inequalities across Pennine Lancashire.”
Matt Sutcliffe, Directorate Manager for Diabetes and Endocrinology at ELHT included: “We are delighted to have received confirmation from the national team that we have been granted a substantial amount of funding which will enable the project to move forward at pace.”
“There has been a lot of really positive cooperative work which has included a wide range of partners in developing a robust plan to support the establishment of this team at ELHT.”
Public Health England reported that alcoholic liver deaths increased by 21% across England since the onset of COVID-19, which is likely due to an increased alcohol consumption, particularly amongst heavy drinkers.
Stress, loneliness and the lack of access to alcohol support services have resulted in many people drinking more alcohol and putting their livers at risk. Alarmingly, these statistics show that those who come from the most deprived areas of the country are also disproportionately affected.
Whilst restrictions may have eased, the long-term effects of the pandemic, including the effect of excess alcohol consumption are still to be seen.