GPs want support to cut harmful alcohol use

Survey shows GPs keen to tackle harmful alcohol use to deliver £100m estimated saving to NHS costs.

GPs are keen to screen more at-risk adults for alcohol misuse, but warn they lack time and support to do so.

A survey of 154 GPs found that 71 per cent thought alcohol screening could be higher.

Almost all (93 per cent) said they were comfortable asking about alcohol use and 57 per cent were proactive in doing so.

NICE estimates that screening all patients for harmful drinking when they register with a GP practice could lead to 'significant' savings.

Overall, improved prevention of harmful drinking could save £100 million a year, NICE believes.

Brief screening would identify 633,355 higher-risk drinkers a year and reduce drinking by around five units a week, research suggests.

GPs said the biggest barrier to delivering screening for alcohol misuse was a lack of time, the poll. GPs also saw patient reluctance and a lack of nurse training as obstacles. The survey was conducted by Opinion Health and commissioned by Lundbeck.

Don Shenker, chief executive of the charity Alcohol Concern, said GPs often overestimated the amount of work involved in alcohol screening.

'People simply need to be asked about their drinking and given brief advice from the practice nurse about recommended drinking levels,' he said.

'A lot of GPs don't realise that. They expect to have to do half an hour's counselling with dependent drinkers.'

He said advice could take two or three minutes during which a nurse asked about drinking and provided advice on units and recommended limits.

'If you ask everyone about their drinking, you're going to identify those who are drinking at harmful levels straight away,' he said.

'Evidence shows that one in eight will then reduce their drinking, as opposed to one in 20 who quit smoking as a result of brief interventions.'

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

Some patients with post-COVID problems may need months of support from GPs

Some patients with post-COVID problems may need months of support from GPs

GPs must be ready to support patients with physical, psychological and social problems...

BMA demands 'rule of six' overhaul to prevent further lockdowns

BMA demands 'rule of six' overhaul to prevent further lockdowns

The government must scrap its high-risk ‘rule of six’ and introduce more stringent...

Average GP practice list tops 9,000 after 30% rise in seven years

Average GP practice list tops 9,000 after 30% rise in seven years

The average GP practice list has risen beyond 9,000 patients for the first time after...

GP dilemma: What should I do if a parent sends their child with COVID-19 symptoms to school?

GP dilemma: What should I do if a parent sends their child with COVID-19 symptoms to school?

Medical Protection's Dr Clare Devlin offers advice on how GPs should respond to parents...

GPs risk missing out on vital COVID-19 risk assessments, BMA warns

GPs risk missing out on vital COVID-19 risk assessments, BMA warns

GPs risk missing out on COVID-19 risk assessments unless practices are guaranteed...

GPs call for partial suspension of network DES amid heavy workload

GPs call for partial suspension of network DES amid heavy workload

GPs leading primary care networks (PCNs) have called for the partial suspension of...