Alcohol Abuse Services Lagging Behind Those On Mainland

Measures to combat alcohol-abuse have been identified as a key public health priority for our islands.

Members at yesterday’s Shadow Health and Wellbeing Board, which will soon take over the management of health and social services on the Isles of Scilly, heard that 90 people were admitted to St Mary’s hospital in 2009/10 due to alcohol-related illnesses including acute intoxication, liver disease and injuries from falling.

The report from the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Drug and Alcohol Action Team said that, while those numbers were too small for meaningful analysis, they were in-line with other statistics in the region and nationally that show a significant rise in alcohol-related admissions over the past ten years.

Bob Crossland, manager of the service, which is based in Cornwall, said for the past couple of years, the islands have been “disconnected” from his team’s alcohol abuse services.

Bob said a worker visits on a fortnightly basis to help local frontline staff dealing with alcohol abuse, such as the GP surgery.

But he added that the new Health and Wellbeing Board will need to take responsibility for managing these services in the future.

Jez Baynes, one of the authors of the report, says the range of alcohol services on Scilly are less well developed than on the mainland and it‘s a good time to review the services.

Unlike mainland community hospitals, our hospital cannot deliver detox programmes because they don’t have the correct certification. Patients currently have to travel to Helston or St Ives to get that service.

Jez also described the “Home and Dry” home detox kits, but again, these cannot be delivered by our Health Centre because the staff haven’t been trained.

He recommended employing a part-time alcohol abuse worker for the islands to coordinate local activities, rather than relying on support from the mainland.

That will cost an estimated £17,000, but Councillors said they couldn’t agree to this until they knew what the final health and wellbeing budget was going to be. Final settlements are not expected until the autumn.

Cllr David Pearson felt this investment could save money spent on treatment in the long-term. But Cllr Amanda Martin was more sceptical, saying it wasn’t clear from the report what benefits there would be for tax payers.

The report also recommended engaging with local licensees to encourage best practice in the industry and introducing Cornwall’s “Best Bar None” award scheme. Councillors felt that should be taken up with the local Pubwatch group.

Cllr Marian Bennett asked for the proposals to be investigated and brought back to a future meeting and that was supported by other members.


One Response to Alcohol Abuse Services Lagging Behind Those On Mainland

  1. Sam May 18, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    I’d be sceptical at throwing £17,000 at a problem as big as this and expecting any sort of results.
    What IS the desired outcome of this? To reduce drinking?
    £17,000 could be spent on a small cinema and that would reduce drinking one or two nights a week, especially in the Winter.
    The problem isn’t alcoholics, the problem is bored young people seeking a release and something to spend their disposable income on. I hear young people, most weekend, brag about spending the best part of £100 on alcohol here on Scilly. No joke, and I used to do the same!
    Spending lots of money on ‘treatment’ isnt the way forward, many of these people are not sick, just bored stiff and looking for a release.

    Drinking amongst the elderly is different, or those in their 40’s, 50’s and 60’s who sit at home with a bottle or two of wine a night, that’s when liver issues can start to cement themselves and become a real medical problem.

    All this seems to go round and round in circles each couple of years. Local pubs have no incentive to join in with Best Bar None schemes, it doesn’t tip the balance with tourists, they dont feel unsafe in pubs here when they come in for dinner, pubs are well run already. It does work in Cornwall where people have no idea if they are walking into a dive or a good pub, but here on Scilly we are totally different, every pub is basically a restaurant in the Summer.

    90 people a year. It sounds like a lot, but is it? What percentage of those people are local? What percentage happen in the Summer months vs the Winter months? What percentage are over 35? What percentage are male or female? What percentage are from each island?

    Cornwall has massive deprivation issues, we do not have the same picture here. What St Mary’s could do with though, is distraction for the 18-35 group. You’ve got a sports hall that doesn’t offer anything in the evening, a MUGA with no lights, both cost a lot of money to hire for an hour, you can buy 10 pints with that! A swimming pool hidden 2km outside of Hugh Town that opens at erratic hours as well, and no community hall with games inside like they do on the off-islands.
    I think we’re lucky that the young people on the islands are in some way sensible and DO have a vague understanding of their drinking levels, or we could have a lot more than 90 admissions per year.

    What a shame the new library conversion did not include a cinema or music room, or band practice room, in a non-sterile environment where they can just turn up and relax without having to ‘book’ anything. But, of course, we don’t really care about young people once they get past 18.