Work to begin on alcohol treatment guideline

Author: Adrian O'Dowd
Work to begin on alcohol treatment guideline

Work to produce a UK-wide alcohol treatment clinical guideline is to start from next month, it has been announced today.

Public Health England (PHE) is working in partnership with the Department of Health and Social Care and the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland governments, to produce UK-wide clinical guidelines for alcohol treatment to provide support for practice.

Currently, there is no equivalent for alcohol to the UK drug misuse treatment guidelines (known as the ‘orange book’), which has helped establish and maintain good practice for drug treatment. The proposed alcohol treatment guidelines will fill this gap, said PHE.

The main aim of the guidelines will be to develop a clear consensus on good practice and help services to implement interventions for alcohol use disorders that are recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

The intention is also to promote and support consistent good practice and improve the quality of service provision, resulting in better outcomes for patients.

PHE said the project would start next month and the guidelines would be published by the end of next year.

A UK-wide expert group of senior clinicians and service users and professionals with specialist alcohol expertise will be convened to oversee development of the guidelines.

They will provide:

  • a detailed framework for specialist service providers to support service delivery and staff training
  • a framework for commissioners to use when designing service specifications and checking quality
  • guidance for primary and secondary health care staff
  • clear guidance on managing and supporting service user pathways, such as between hospital and community, and prisons and community
  • a reference point for national regulatory bodies when inspecting alcohol treatment services.

The clinical guidelines will be relevant to alcohol treatment provided by hospital alcohol care teams and the pathways from hospital into community treatment services.

PHE said its inquiry last year into the fall in numbers of people in alcohol treatment found there was a need for more alcohol-related expertise among staff in substance misuse services.

That inquiry also found that some services needed to stick closer to the evidence-based interventions for alcohol problems recommended by NICE and also found that there could be a need for further evidence-based guidelines.

Rosanna O’Connor, director of alcohol, drugs, tobacco and justice at PHE, said: “Alcohol misuse costs society £21.4bn each year. Effective alcohol treatment can help to reduce the burden that is placed on health and social care services as well as reducing crime, improving health, and supporting individuals and families on the road to recovery.

“We are very proud to be involved in the partnership that is working to develop the first ever UK-wide alcohol clinical guidelines. Our aim is that the guidelines will help to increase the number of people in the UK receiving effective treatment for alcohol-related harm or dependence.”