Introduction The Princess Royal University Hospital (PRUH) is held an alcohol awareness day in January to encourage local people to reflect upon their drinking habits and make positive lifestyle changes.
The awareness day came in response to the number of patients requiring the hospital’s services due to the effects of excessive alcohol consumption. In November and December 2014, the number of people who attended the PRUH–s Emergency Department (ED) due to excessive alcohol consumption totalled 92, and of that number 36 patients had to be admitted for further treatment. Ninety-one per cent of those who attended the ED due to alcohol-related problems were of working age. An audit of 100 inpatients found that 16 were drinking at potentially hazardous levels.
Method Information was made available on the recommended weekly maximum levels of alcohol consumption and sources of help. A stand was erected at the hospital front entrance and literature disseminated to staff and patients given plus a direct opportunity to ask questions. Reflection of weekly alcohol consumption was aided by the use of diary cards.
Results Over the course of the day, 145 people visited the stand and our team disseminated information on recommended weekly alcohol limits. Staff were particularly interested in understanding the units they were consuming and patients were surprised to learn that they should have three alcohol-free days per week. Visitors to the stand were encouraged to keep a diary of their drinking habits and take part in our competitions to create non-alcoholic recipes for smoothies and mocktails. A few quotes from staff included “it is a real eye opener to keep a diary card”, “alcohol histories are often take too long to pin down an answer”. Patients semed particularly keen to ask about binge drinking and many were unaware about the need for alcohol free days.
Conclusion The number of people we are seeing across our services as a result of alcohol misuse – from the Emergency department to outpatients and endoscopy illustrates the damaging effect it can have. Lack of awareness of the maximum weekly consumption plays a big part. The New Year is an ideal time for people to reflect on their health and consider making lifestyle changes. It is up to individuals to recognise the problem and want to make a positive change in their lives. The alcohol awareness day was local success and both patients and staff gained insight into the impact of alcohol on our current NHS resources.
Disclosure of interest None Declared.