We know that some people are drinking too much, and tackling the culture of harmful and binge drinking is a priority for Government. We are working with the alcohol industry and other stakeholders to implement a comprehensive strategy to tackle it, including:
a new public information campaign, which will start on 19 May;
more help for people who want to drink less—targeted advice and support will be available from the same date;
a Home Office led review of industry social responsibility standards, which will report this Spring;
an independent review of alcohol pricing, promotion, and harm, which will report in August; and
toughened enforcement of the law on underage sales.
Much alcohol-related harm is preventable, and there are substantial health gains to be made through the widespread implementation of programmes to identify harmful drinking earlier, providing brief advice or referral to specialist alcohol treatment for those who need it.
We have put in place a new national indicator from April 2008 to measure change in the rate of alcohol related hospital admissions—the first ever national commitment to monitor publicly how the national health service is tackling alcohol harms. This indicator is expected to encourage earlier identification of people who drink too much linked to advice from general practitioners or hospitals. That is shown to be the best way of reducing the kind of ‘everyday’ drinking which over time leads to liver disease and other problems.
We will disseminate the lessons of the current trailblazer pilots on identification and brief advice to encourage uptake by NHS professionals.