Healthy living

Low price alcohol still no.1 problem, say doctors and nurses

experts say alcohol is still too cheap. Health professionals call for tougher measures on the sale of cheap alcohol

A snapshot survey of doctors and nurses treating patients with alcohol related harm found that many believe public health campaigns are ineffective, and action on sales of low priced alcohol is the most important weapon for tackling the rising tide of alcohol problems.

The survey was carried out by the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Nursing. Gastroenterologists, hepatologists, acute physicians and nurses were questioned about Government policy and plans to tackle alcohol related harm and current services for people with alcohol related health problems.

Survey Findings:

  • 84% of respondents thought that public health campaigns were not effective
  • 73% felt action on low priced alcohol was needed to tackle alcohol related problems
  • 90% believed that all alcohol products should be labelled with unit information and sensible drinking guidelines
  • 71% believed that greater investment in treatment services was needed
  • 81% thought that if alcohol was more expensive, there would be a decrease in consumption

Another issue highlighted by the survey was serious under-investment in staff and services for alcohol treatment, including a lack of specialist nurses.

88% of clinicians surveyed said funding had not kept up with demand and services were suffering from underinvestment.

Concerns included long waiting times for support services which caused disillusionment in the most motivated of patients before being seen for assessment. A dire lack of community detoxification facilities was also highlighted.

Professor Ian Gilmore, President of the Royal College of Physicians and Chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance said:

"While informing the public through health campaigns is important, these findings shows that front line doctors and nurses treating patients with drink problems do not believe that this enough to reverse our binge drinking culture and must be linked to tough actions on cheap alcohol and round the clock availability."

This article was published on Wed 8 April 2009

Image © Maxim Malevich -

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