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Alcoholic Drinks: Death

Volume 499: debated on Wednesday 11 November 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent steps his Department has taken to reduce alcohol-related deaths. (298797)

The Government have a comprehensive strategy, “Safe. Sensible. Social. The next steps in the National Alcohol Strategy”, to tackle alcohol harm, including alcohol-related deaths. This is based on informing and supporting people to make healthier and more responsible choices, creating an environment in which the healthier and more responsible choice is the easier choice, providing advice and support for people most at risk and providing a delivery system that effectively prioritises and delivers action on alcohol misuse. Key actions include:

the Government's "Know Your Limits" campaign to challenge "binge drinking' and the public acceptability of drunkenness by highlighting the attendant personal and social consequences, and improving the public's knowledge of alcohol units and of the heath risks associated with regular drinking of alcohol above the recommended guidelines;

the development of a range of new kinds of information and advice, such as interactive web-based support and advice, available nationally;

publishing the School of Health and Related Research review assessing the effects of alcohol price and promotion on health, crime and employment;

investing £8 million through a directed enhanced service in primary care nationwide to promote early identification of drinking alcohol linked to health harm and brief interventions to reduce excessive drinking;

identifying a series of High Impact Changes (HIC) on alcohol for primary care trusts (PCTs) to help them identify the key actions they can undertake to reduce alcohol-related health harms, including improving the effectiveness and capacity of specialist treatment for dependence on alcohol;

on 5 November 2008, we launched the Alcohol Improvement Programme, which includes new funding for regional alcohol managers to coordinate the Alcohol Improvement Programme in each region; the Alcohol Learning Centre, an on-line resource which promotes sharing of good practice; and a National Support Team for Alcohol providing support to local commissioners;

from April 2008, a new NHS Indicator to reduce alcohol-related hospital admissions, which provides a real incentive for local PCTs to provide alcohol prevention and treatment services. 99 PCTs and 75 local authority areas have returned plans showing that they have retained or adopted this indicator for 2009-10;

in June 2008, we established World Class Commissioning (WCC) competencies against which all PCTs are assessed, with prevention of alcohol-related harm appearing as one of the 10 most frequently chosen outcome measures; and

in July 2009, we published 'Signs for Improvement', which provides alcohol-specific commissioning guidance, built on WCC principles, specifically for PCTs to aid them in commissioning appropriate and effective interventions and treatment. A copy has been placed in the Library.

The Department supports Government-wide action such as the recent consultation by the Home Office on a mandatory code for alcohol retailers. This includes proposals to restrict irresponsible alcohol promotions.