The figures from 128 A&E departments were obtained by the charity through a Freedom of Information request and key findings included the following:
-Only 9 per cent of A&E departments included offered alcohol harm reduction interventions. Even less offered interventions for patients under 16.
-48 per cent of A&E departments do not have referral procedures in place. This means that almost half of all young people with alcohol issues will not be referred onto specialist treatment.
-73 per cent of A&E departments have not developed strategies aimed at reducing alcohol harm in young people.
-24 per cent of A&E departments do employ a specific health professional who is able to deal with alcohol problems in young people. However only 17 per cent of them were able to help youngsters under 16.
Alcohol Concern chief executive Don Shenker commented that though children can be effectively treated in A&E there are very few strategies in place which could prevent and discourage them from repeating the same behaviour.
“Attending hospital is a significant consequence of excessive drinking and often can represent a ‘teachable moment’. Hospital staff can implement a number of strategies which will reduce harm to young people and reduce costs to the NHS in the long term.
“These are low or no cost policies and practices which can pay huge dividends in the long run. With the highest rates of underage alcohol related injuries in Europe doing nothing isn’t an option.”
Alcohol Concern have recommended that A&E departments identify those who are at risk so they can implement early intervention schemes.
In response, chief executive of the NHS Confederation Nigel Edwards, said: “Getting the response right requires co-ordination across different parts of public services and Alcohol Concern’s report clearly shows that, while some areas already have the necessary strategies and services in place, more needs to be done to make sure excessive drinking in the young does not become a long term, much more insidious, habit.
“In future under the Government’s NHS reforms, there is genuine potential for new health and well-being boards to help lead this work so people get the most appropriate services.”
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