Daily Archives: 14/01/2015

Young people’s hospital alcohol pathways: Support pack for A&E departments

The spotlight really does seem to have narrowed on the impact of alcohol on young people, I’m happy to say 🙂

Here is another new initiative from Public Health England.  Guidance to improve support for young people in A&E with alcohol related problems has been published. It is aimed at A&E clinicians, hospital managers, substance misuse and young people’s commissioners and includes a set of key questions or prompts for professionals to help them develop care pathways within A&E and into other services for young people.

It looks at the extent of the problem

Up to one third of alcohol-related A&E attendances are for under 18 year olds and local areas vary significantly in how they approach the care of young people in this situation. Health services have a responsibility to ensure this ‘teachable moment’ is used to advise young people about their drinking.
Taken from the government’s alcohol strategy, March 2012
“On average, 26% of adolescents consumed alcohol in the past three months starting with 1% of 10-year olds and increasing steadily to 76% of 17-year olds.”
And there are large geographical variables too:

“14% of adolescents in one London A&E department having drunk alcohol in the last three months compared to 35% in the North East of England.”
And to chime with my own research the guidance says:
“There is also growing concern about the impact of alcohol use on young people’s sexual behaviour.  Some young women have reported that using alcohol may help reduce their anxieties in situations where they feel pressurised into having sex.  Alcohol consumption during adolescence is associated with an increased risk of regretted sexual experience.  It also increases the vulnerability of being a victim of sexual assault and other crimes, particularly assaults.”

And it then key questions for developing pathways which they list as including:

  • Understanding levels of unmet need
  • Initial screening and referral process
  • Information and data sharing
  • Safeguarding
  • Interventions
  • Next steps

It is another joint venture between PHE and Alcohol Concern and I welcome it as it is a conversation that very much needs to be had.