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Telegraph: "Charity calls for alcohol nurses"

November 25, 2005 -- Today the Telegraph (U.K.) site posted a short but good piece by Rosie Murray-West reporting that a "leading addiction charity is calling for an alcohol nurse to be appointed in every hospital in Britain to deal with the rise in binge drinking." The piece coincided with a historic easing of British liquor licensing laws. It stressed the value of specialist nurses in identifying and addressing such alcohol problems. The piece noted that such specialists can play a key role in later patient follow-ups, which the piece reported can significantly reduce problem drinking. The piece offered a good illustration of nursing's holistic health focus.

The charity, Action on Addiction, was reportedly concerned about negative health effects from the expanded hours of U.K. pubs. Its chief executive, Leslie King-Lewis, was quoted as saying that alcohol abuse was "fast becoming a national health crisis," with over 100 medical conditions associated with it and a related cost to the National Health Service of £1.7 billion each year. The charity believes that "placing specialist nurses in A&E departments will help stem the rise in alcohol problems." The idea appears to be that the nurses would identify and focus on patients admitted because of "over-consumption of alcohol," calling them later to talk about the issue. A charity spokesman reportedly said that in the few hospitals that already have such "an alcohol worker," re-admissions for such problems have "dropped dramatically." King-Lewis noted that "brief interventions" in Accident & Emergency wards were "very effective in reducing hazardous drinking in non-dependent drinkers."

This brief piece highlighted an example of the kind of holistic intervention at which nurses excel. Rather than simply treating the immediate problem, the proposed "alcohol nurses" would appear to be focused on exploring deeper issues that may be involved, and helping patients work through them to reduce future problems. The piece might have included more detail on what the "alcohol nurses" do, and sought comment from one, or from a nursing leader. But on the whole, we commend Ms. Murray-West and the Telegraph for this helpful piece.

See the article: "Charity calls for alcohol nurses" by Rosie Murray-West in the November 25, 2005 edition of the Telegraph.

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