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.


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