In this guest blog by Meg Griffiths, Communications Manager from Alcohol Health Alliance UK (AHA), she explains about evidence being needed for the UK having an alcohol strategy and how you can provide evidence on reducing alcohol harm:
After the Christmas season is over, many of us reflect upon our drinking habits of the last year and resolve to make changes going forward – perhaps deciding to take part in Dry January or opting for a small glass of wine with dinner instead of a large.
But when was the last time we reflected upon our drinking habits as a nation?
Working on the frontline of the NHS, many doctors and surgeons witness first-hand the burden that alcohol places on our society. From liver units to A&E; the oncology ward to addiction centres, the impact of alcohol on the health of the nation is clear.
While the Scottish Government published its updated alcohol strategy in 2018, the UK Government has not had an alcohol strategy – a plan to reduce the harm caused by alcohol – since 2012, despite wide-ranging evidence of the harm alcohol causes. Without a strategy in place, little is being done to help curb the one million hospital admissions a year that are related to alcohol. Alcohol remains the third biggest lifestyle risk factor for disease and death in the UK. This is entirely preventable.
An independent commission into alcohol harm has been launched with the support of the AHA. The AHA is a coalition of more than 50 organisations, including the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, who are working to reduce alcohol harm.
The Commission will hold three oral evidence sessions across the UK later this year and has launched a call for written evidence, with submissions welcomed before the deadline of 12 noon on 17 February 2020. Some Members and Fellows of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow might have been contacted about this recently.
The Commission is interested in your observations as a medical professional about alcohol harm in society. With the Scottish Government’s introduction of Minimum Unit Pricing on alcohol introduced last year, the Commission is also keen to hear whether you believe this has made any difference to your work and what other changes to policy you think may help to tackle alcohol harm in future.
With your input, the Commission hopes to demonstrate to the Government the vital need for an alcohol strategy in order to help those who choose to drink do so safely and responsibly.
Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, Chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance UK, said:
“The Commission on Alcohol Harm is an extremely important investigation into how all parts of our society are impacted by our drinking habits.
“We need to have voices representing the wide range of experiences of alcohol harm; including those on the front-line, researchers and those with first hand experience of alcohol harm. Together, we can build a solid case for change.”