Alcohol - Health Committee Contents

Memorandum by The Royal College of Surgeons of England (AL 60)

  1.  The Royal College of Surgeons welcomes the opportunity to contribute to the Health Select Committee's inquiry into alcohol. We welcome the general approach to reduce overall alcohol consumption and alcohol related-harm by focusing on measures to promote responsible drinking and curb excessive alcohol consumption. Surgeons see some of the most immediate and serious effects of excessive alcohol consumption through emergency trauma injury admissions resulting from violence, falls and road accidents.

  2.  The College believes that patient contacts with hospital services provide a unique opportunity to deliver treatment for alcohol misuse. The effects of excessive alcohol consumption are routinely seen by those involved in delivering trauma services. Many trauma patients are in the 16-25 age group and are usually not yet addicted to (dependent on) alcohol. Therefore, at this early stage, treatment of their alcohol misuse can prevent this misuse developing into a much harder to treat alcohol problem. Since this group often have few other contacts with the health service, contacts with hospital services, and in particular the trauma services, need to be capitalised on.

  3.  The Royal College of Surgeons believes that such treatment can, in many cases, be delivered by members of the extended surgical team, usually during follow-up clinics where, for example, stitches are removed. This is known to be a cost-effective means of reducing excessive alcohol consumption and further injury.[68]

  4.  The delivery of a hospital Trust alcohol strategy should be a board level responsibility to ensure universal access to high quality alcohol misuse treatment across all medical specialities. Clinical Directors of surgical services have a key role in the local implementation of programmes across surgery.

April 2009

68   Smith, A.J., Hodgson, R.J., Bridgeman, K., Shepherd, J.P. (2003). A randomized controlled trial of a brief intervention after alcohol-related facial injury. Addiction: 98(1) p 43-52. Back

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