AHA Bulletin – July 2019


AHA UK launches duty campaign

We launched our 2019 duty campaign, calling for a 2% increase in alcohol duty to invest in public health and prevention services. Public health budgets have been cut and only 1 in 5 alcohol-dependent people are accessing treatment. At the same time, alcohol duty has been cut or frozen for six of the last seven years. This costs the Treasury more than £1 billion annually – enough to fund the salaries of 40,000 nurses.

To make this campaign a success, we need your help! We need to demonstrate that people in the UK care about this topic and want the government to prioritise reducing the harm alcohol causes instead of supporting the drinks companies that fuel it.

Will you send an online postcard to your MP asking for a duty increase? Please also share this with your colleagues, networks and email lists asking them to do the same – it’s vital that we can demonstrate that enough people in the UK want to government to take action! Send a postcard here.

Labour Party announce mandatory alcohol labelling

Jonathon Ashworth MP, Shadow Health Secretary

At the Alcohol Change UK Conference, Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth announced that the Labour Party has adopted a policy of mandatory alcohol labelling. This policy would require labels to contain: the alcohol content in units; the Chief Medical Officers’ low risk drinking guidelines; nutritional information; and pregnancy warnings. This is fantastic news for the AHA’s labelling campaign, and follows conversations we and others have had with Jonathan and the Labour team during the last months. The announcement came following a renewed public interest in labelling, spurred in part by the BBC Panorama documentary Britain’s Drink Problem. Sir Ian Gilmore responded on behalf of the AHA to urge the government to act now so that drinkers are not kept in the dark. You can read a summary of the conference here.

Consumption down in Scotland after MUP: MESAS monitoring report

On 19 June 2019, the first MESAS Monitoring report since the introduction of minimum unit pricing was published by NHS Health Scotland. The report showed that in 2018, 9.9 litres of pure alcohol were sold per adult in Scotland, equivalent to 19.0 units per adult per week. This is the lowest level seen in Scotland in the last 25 years. Alison Douglas, Chief Executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, discussed the encouraging figures from the MESAS monitoring report and why we should remain confident that MUP will improve Scotland’s health. The AHA has also responded to the report.

High levels of alcohol harm amongst inpatients

A new systematic review and meta-analysis concluded that one in ten inpatients are alcohol dependent and one in five use alcohol at harmful levels. Published in the journal Addiction, the report took data from 124 previous studies, enabling a sample size of over 1.5 million individuals. The highest levels of harmful drinking were found in mental health inpatient units and alcohol dependence was most frequent among people attending A&E.

First ever Addiction Awareness Week comes to a close

HRH the Duchess of Cambridge

The inaugural Addiction Awareness Week came to a close on Sunday 16 June following a bumper week of activity including a gala dinner attended by HRH Duchess of Cambridge. Addiction Awareness Week was created to help highlight the widespread and far-reaching impact of addiction, as well as the effect it has on families. Read the full story here.

£1.4 billion: the cost of hangovers

The Institute of Alcohol Studies has published a new report, Financial Headache. It estimates that people being hungover or intoxicated at work costs the economy £1.4 billion a year. Using a nationally representative survey, it finds that 42% of British workers have ever been to work hungover or under the influence, and 9% in the last month.

New campaign: Behind the Numbers

Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol & Drugs (SFAD) have launched their campaign #BehindTheNumbers. This campaign highlights and champions the hidden and unrecognised contribution of families in saving and preserving the lives of those harmed through alcohol or drugs.

Love your liver roadshow

The British Liver Trust’s Love Your Liver roadshows will be touring Scotland in September. The mobile unit gives people the opportunity to take a liver health screener and receive a Fibroscan. The screener is an online questionnaire that provides an assessment of an individual’s potential for liver damage, measured against the three main risk factors of alcohol, diet/obesity and viral hepatitis. If the scan gives an indication of liver damage, people are provided with a letter to give to their GP so that further tests can be given. Individuals whose screener results suggest they are at risk are offered the opportunity of a non-invasive Fibroscan check which measures the stiffness of the liver. Please support the events by publicising the dates in your newsletters and on social media.

14th September Inverness
15th September Elgin
16th September Aberdeen
17th September Dundee
18th September Glasgow
19th September Glasgow
20th September Dumfries

Exact locations will be available on the website.

Alcohol and breast cancer: Spot of Lunch campaign

Balance, the North East alcohol office, has highlighted findings of its ‘Spot of Lunch’ campaign. The campaign, which ran from February 2019, aimed to raise awareness of the links between alcohol and breast cancer. Over two phases, the campaign ran on TV and online, resulting in 81,000 website visits and 55% of North East adults recalling the campaign. Two thirds of those who saw it rated it as good or excellent and over a fifth said they cut down how often they drink after seeing the campaign.

A recent paper in the BMJ found that only one in five women attending breast clinics and screening appointments and only half of the staff questioned at one NHS UK centre knew that alcohol is a risk factor for breast cancer. Balance’s own research in 2018 found awareness of alcohol’s link to breast cancer to be around 35% in the North East, compared to 23% nationally.

RCPsych launches new website: Mental Health Watch

The Royal College of Psychiatrists has launched a new website, Mental Health Watch, which will help you track trends and assess progress locally, regionally and across the country.

The site uses 25 key indicators to measure the health of mental health, divided into six themes. Many of the indicators allow you to track trends at CCG, STP level or nationally. For example, it is a great way to compare alcohol-related hospital admissions in your area to the national average and see how they have changed over the last couple of years. The data for many of the indicators is drawn from NHS England’s quarterly dashboard; some from NHS digital; and some from a panel of more than 600 psychiatrists who are surveyed four times a year. Other indicators use data from the NHS Staff Survey, Care Quality Commission, NHS Improvement and Open Prescribing.

AHA Ireland wins award for best public affairs campaign

Mari O’Leary Chairperson, Public Relations Consultants Association; Siobhán Creaton, Head of Public Affairs and Advocacy, RCPI; Prof Frank Murray, Chair, Alcohol Health Alliance Ireland

For their work in campaging for the Public Health Alcohol Bill the Alcohol Health Alliance Ireland have been recognised with an award for the Best Public Affairs Campaign at the recent Awards for Excellence in Public Relations 2019.

NOFAS-UK: CCGs are failing Government policy on FASD

In May, NOFAS-UK released A Crisis of Commissioning: CCGs Are Failing Government Policy on FASD. Based on Freedom of Information requests to all Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and NHS Trusts and Health Boards, the report highlights the mismatch between government policy and actual practice. The vast majority of CCGs are not commissioning services for FASD prevention, diagnosis or post-diagnostic care for those with FASD.

The report was launched at a meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on FASD. At the meeting, it was announced that a NICE Quality Standard on FASD (based on the Scottish SIGN Guidance on Children and young people exposed prenatally to alcohol) will be developed in 2020. This will lead to a profound change in the landscape with regards to FASD. NOFAS-UK held a roundtable discussion on the process in the margins of the launch of Greater Manchester’s Alcohol Exposed Pregnancies programme. This programme has included a major outreach on social media, #Drymester. NOFAS-UK was involved in the launch of the project and continues to engage with the programme as it is rolled out.

New BLT report: latest liver disease statistics

The British Liver Trust has published a new report pulling together all of the latest statistics on liver disease. Read the full report or executive summary.

Does alcohol increase risk of melanoma?

World Cancer Research Fund have published their new report on diet, nutrition, physical activity and skin cancer. This report analyses 55 studies from around the world, comprising more than 13 million adults. It found limited evidence that drinking alcohol might increase the risk of malignant melanoma and basal cell carcinoma. Unlike many other cancers, it appears that diet and exercise patterns are not strongly associated with an increased risk of skin cancer. Instead, the sun is still the number one cause of skin cancer.

RCGP and BLT finish 3-year clinical priority

A joint initiative by the Royal College of General Practitioners and the British Liver Trust to improve the detection and management of liver disease is coming to an end. Resources available on an online toolkit developed as part of the project include quick links for GPs to use when assessing alcohol use, and commissioning recommendations to guide GPs to standardise care for people drinking alcohol at harmful levels. Provision of brief alcohol interventions and referral to specialist alcohol services is encouraged, as is the assessment of liver damage in anyone consistently drinking alcohol at harmful levels. The GPs involved in the project are committed to ongoing collaboration with the RCGP and the BLT to ensure further progress is made to improve the detection and management of liver disease in primary care.

Cardiff Violence Research Group presents at WHO conference in Uganda

The Violence Research Group’s Jonathan Shepherd was a speaker at the World Health Organisation’s INSPIRE conference in Kampala, Uganda. The conference brought together policy makers and practitioners from across central and southern Africa to advance the prevention of violence against children. Jonathan also spoke at the Uganda Christian University the following day on the Cardiff Model for Violence Prevention. Read his presentation here.

Diane Goslar wins RCPsych President’s Award

Diane Goslar

AHA member Diane Goslar has been awarded the President’s Medal in recognition of the work that she has been and is doing for the Royal College of Psychiatrists. This involves work on alcohol, drugs and other related matters.


Club Soda mindful drinking festival

Club Soda
20 July 2019 11am-5pm, Spitalfields Market, London

The next Club Soda Mindful Drinking Festival is happening in London this July. 40 alcohol-free drinks producers will bring samples of their drinks and there will be live DJ sets from London’s musical talent. Find out here how you can promote this event, including materials to share on social networks.

Alcohol and everything else

Alcohol Change UK’s annual conference in Wales
18 September 2019, Glyndŵr University, Wrexham

Alcohol misuse is both a problem in itself and a coping mechanism for other problems. To provide the best support for people who may be drinking for complex reasons, services need to know how to address a range of complex needs. At this multidisciplinary event, experts in a range of fields will help us get to grips with some of the issues that can interact with drinking, including mental health, Adverse Childhood Experiences, autism, eating disorders and gambling. Plus, we’ll be hearing from the author Catherine Gray about her twenty years of heavy drinking, and the unexpected joys of being sober. Find out more and book your place here.

Alcohol marketing: protecting the vulnerable

The Institute of Alcohol Studies
16 October 2019, Friends House, Euston Road, London

The Institute of Alcohol Studies is running a 1-day conference on alcohol marketing. Topics include: protecting young people; regulating the online ‘wild west’; disrupting social norms: alcohol marketing; and gender, sport, and recovery. Register here or contact [email protected].

Alcohol and addiction: policies, strategies and competencies

Medical Council on Alcohol Symposium
13 November 2019, BMA House, London

The full day programme will cover the topic of alcohol and health from a number of perspectives, including the relationship between addiction and alcohol, educating medical students, student mental health, training in addiction medicine, and alcohol and the liver. This year’s Max Glatt Memorial Lecture is by Professor Nick Sheron, who has highlighted the inexorable rise of liver disease and used his experience as a highly effective policy influencer to support minimum unit pricing. There will be a dedicated session for nursing colleagues, focussing on competencies, highly relevant given the expansion of Alcohol Care Teams in hospitals. The day will include clinical and research perspectives and the content will be of relevance to all health professionals working in the alcohol and health field. Find out more.

Courses and Competitions

National Alcohol Awareness Day competition

Medical Council on Alcohol
Deadline 31 July 2019

Open to current medical and nursing students in the UK, the competition is to design an educational poster for the general public on the topic of ‘alcohol and pregnancy’. There are cash prizes for the first three places. Find out more.

Spectrum Learn & Develop RCGP Certificate in the Management of Alcohol Problems in Primary Care L1

Spectrum Learn and Develop and RCGP
14 November 2019

Focusing on: identifying alcohol-related harm and harmful and dependent drinking; diagnosing the severity of alcohol dependence; understanding the treatment options; developing skills to treat problem drinking; and delivering enhanced services for problem drinkers. Book online or contact 01924 311405 or [email protected] for further information.