DOCTORS TO BE GIVEN SPECIAL TRAINING…
Medics to learn to identify people who drink too much, government says.
The government promises that, within three years, all medical schools in England will have alcohol training on the curriculum. Addiction Today hopes that it will not be a matter of mere hours within a multi-year programme but instead reflect the high percentage of patients damaged by alcohol and drug abuse and dependence. We also hope that training will cover treatment and recovery – and that there will be a plan of action to redress the history of medical schools as a source of problematic drinking for its students, sometimes lasting lifetimes.
Medical schools have been allocated £650,000 to examine the best way of training doctors-to-be how to spot alcohol misuse. In all, 60,000 medical students should be trained over the next decade.
Public health minister Dawn Primarolo told the British Medical Association‘s public health conference: “Doctors and nurses are our eyes and ears when it comes to identifying problem drinkers”. Where they are appropriately trained in early interventions, research has proven them effective.
“For too long, GPs have avoided asking questions about alcohol use, partly due to lack of training,” commented Alcohol Concern. “However, this issue need a package of measures. GPs must also be incentivised to raise alcohol issues. Until this happens, the undergraduate training alone may not be enough to help patients reduce their drinking.”
Plastic surgeon Peter Mahaffey told the British Medical Journal that police should carry breathalysers and fine those three times over the drink-drive limit. The Bedford Hospital medic said his suggestion came after seeing patients injured in drunken fights and disorder, incurring facial scarring and nerve injuries.
Alcohol consumption has been rising steadily for the past 15 years, with figures suggesting a third of men and a fifth of women drink more than the recommended levels each week. Alcohol is a factor in most crimes and is estimated to cost the economy £7billion a year.