Work ongoing to reduce alcohol-related harm in Northumberland

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The rates of alcohol-related hospital admissions and alcohol mortality are improving in Northumberland compared to elsewhere in the region.

These two positive outcomes were highlighted at Northumberland County Council’s health and wellbeing board last Thursday during an update on work to reduce alcohol-related harm.

However, the figures for hospital admissions for alcohol-specific conditions among under 18s have not improved in the same way so that is an area ‘to keep an eye on’.

Last July, the board, which is made up of council and health representatives, agreed to support the Alcohol CLeaR (Challenging services, Leadership and Results) self-assessment process developed by Public Health England.

This is a tool to help come up with an evidence-based response to preventing and reducing alcohol-related harm at a local level with the self-assessment for Northumberland taking place last autumn followed by a conference for stakeholders in November.

Since January, a programme of activity has been developed, overseen by the Northumberland Drug and Alcohol Steering Group, to respond to the findings, which did include a number of positives.

The main recommendations include supporting the development of a North-East vision for an alcohol-free childhood, where every child is free from the impact of other people’s drinking, from pressure to drink and from the harms caused by drinking themselves, and supporting schools and other youth settings to use good-quality, evidence-based resources to provide information and education on drugs and alcohol.

Other work includes encouraging the sharing of intelligence across the partnership to inform the licensing process and regulatory operations, and supporting and training agencies to respond more creatively to people who are potentially dependent on alcohol, but not accessing specialist treatment.

The report author, Liz Robinson, told the meeting that the specialist services on offer are of a good quality, but 79 per cent of alcohol-dependent people in Northumberland do not access addiction services – nationally this figure is even higher.

Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service