‘Fuel to the fire:’ Survey of ambulance service shows alcohol placing a huge demand on frontline workers
A new survey of frontline workers at the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) has found that alcohol-related call-outs are placing an avoidable demand on 9-in-10 staff.
NEAS was featured in the recent BBC documentary series Ambulance, where alcohol appeared as a recurring theme. The survey, published by Balance, found:
- nearly 1-in-3 say half or more incidences they deal with over Christmas involve alcohol
- 68% say over half of call-outs for domestic violence are alcohol-related
- almost half of female respondents reported sexual harassment/assault while on duty from people under the influence
- 40% have received threat of injury from patients or members of the public at least six times.
Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance UK, said: ‘With alcohol costing the NHS at least £3.5 billion every year, this survey sheds light on just how alcohol harm is impacting our already overstretched health services.
‘We urgently need preventative measures to limit the affordability and availability of alcohol and protect our frontline workers from these shockingly high numbers of alcohol-related assaults and violence.’
The ubiquity of alcohol: Findings from Scotland’s Alcohol Action Group
New research from Scotland’s Alcohol Action Group has underlined the pervasiveness and societal normalisation of alcohol.
The Group, whose members include families and individuals personally harmed by alcohol, surveyed the presence and visibility of alcohol in their homes, communities and online spaces. Members recorded each reference to alcohol they noticed in one day as they carried out their normal activities. They reported ‘constant exposure,’ noting up to 10 references every 1.5 hours.
One member said: ‘There’s too much advertising that promotes alcohol as a way to relax, reduce stress and have fun, or as a way to reward yourself for working hard or achieving a goal. Alcohol advertising implies that social occasions and holidays require alcoholic drinks in order to be enjoyable.’
Justina Murray, CEO of Scottish Families, said: ‘We can see that there is no part of Scottish daily life that is alcohol-free. Alcohol has been normalised to such an extent that we are now in a state of collective denial about the harm it causes to our families and communities. We want to see strong action on labelling, marketing, advertising, and access to alcohol, with alcohol-free spaces becoming the norm not the exception.’
The Scottish government is currently seeking opinions on alcohol advertising and promotion – read the scope of their consultation and submit your views here.
People, planet or profit: Alcohol’s impact on a sustainable future
A new report from the Institute of Alcohol Studies (IAS) brings together the learnings from their sustainability webinar series. The report covers:
- how alcohol production is an impediment to achieving many of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
- how the alcohol industry uses the SDG agenda and corporate social responsibility to position themselves as engines of development
- the environmental damage alcohol production causes, from using up water in water-stressed regions and destroying biodiversity, to the huge waste it creates
- the human rights abuses of the alcohol industry, particularly in the Global South, and how we need to move towards a human rights-based approach to alcohol harm reduction.
The authors make several recommendations, including reducing the affordability, availability, and promotion of alcohol, avoiding industry involvement in policymaking, and adopting a ‘True Value’ approach.
Read the report and recommendations in full here, and catch-up on the sustainability series on YouTube.
#CallingTime on alcohol sponsorship in Scotland
Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP) have launched a campaign calling on the Scottish government to implement a total ban on alcohol sponsorship of sport and protect the health of the nation.
Research carried out by the University of Stirling found that the Scottish football league has a higher proportion of alcohol industry sponsors (6.4%) in comparison with other European leagues.
In general, alcohol marketing is causally associated with the initiation of drinking, an increase in alcohol consumption (including binge drinking), and an increased risk of relapse for those in recovery. Not only is there a causal relationship between alcohol sports sponsorship and consumption rates among fans, but also for those who play sports.
Sport should be associated with (and inspire) good health and team spirit, not be used as a marketing tool for harmful products. You can support SHAAP’s campaign by writing to your MSP, sharing information on social media, and responding to the Scottish government marketing consultation.
Independence from alcohol industry interference in Ireland
Since March 2022, a new social movement has been growing across Ireland to expose and challenge the corrosive and increasing influence that the global alcohol industry is having on our health and wellbeing.
Over 30 organisations have adopted the ‘i-Mark: Supporting independence from Alcohol Industry Influence’ and hundreds of people, including many political representatives, have attended briefings on why such a movement is needed. In doing so, organisations act to stop misleading marketing and alcohol industry funded ‘awareness,’ ‘education’ and ‘prevention’ activities which serve to replace, detract from, undermine and/or confuse sound scientific evidence.
The Irish Community Action on Alcohol Network’s (ICAAN) ongoing campaign to ensure that schools-based education in Ireland is free from alcohol industry influence and funding is gaining momentum, with a press launch on 8 December where Professor Tom Babor outlined why the i-Mark is both relevant and necessary.
For more information on the i-Mark and for a briefing on the schools campaign please contact Paula Leonard (Paula@alcoholforum.org).
Opening doors: ensuring access for all to alcohol support
Alcohol Change UK
2 March 2023
Managing drug and alcohol problems in primary care
Royal College of General Practitioners
16–17 March 2023
Meet the Members
Every month, we speak to a member of the AHA to find out more about what they do and how their organisation is working to end alcohol harm.
Today we meet Russ Booth, national communications adviser at Change Grow Live.
How does your organisation help to reduce alcohol harm?
Change Grow Live provides a broad range of services for people who want to change the way they use alcohol, from simple quizzes and advice on our website, to local treatment services that provide detox services and medication. We are the largest provider of drug and alcohol services in the UK, and we also provide a huge amount of support for people under 18. No matter who we are working with or where they are located, we follow one principle: believe in people. This is the foundation for all our work, and means we always strive to treat people with respect, see things from their perspective and do everything we can to give them the best service possible.
What inspires you most in your job?
It is no understatement to say that, in my role, I have met some amazing people who believe they wouldn’t be with us today if they had not been able to cut down or quit alcohol. Listening to these individuals, hearing their stories, and seeing them and their families thrive is a constant source of inspiration for me.
What change do you think would make the biggest difference in reducing alcohol harm?
I am a marketer at heart, so I naturally believe that a more direct approach to communicating alcohol related risks and harms could make a huge difference. Like many people, I had an upbringing where the negative impacts of alcohol were never meaningfully discussed in any private, personal, or professional setting. If we can equip everyone with facts, information, and advice then we give them a greater opportunity to understand and manage the way they use alcohol.