Find us on Facebook

alcohol health alliance uk

NHS North East Annual Report copy

Posted 15/02/10

When it was launched last year, Balance, the North East alcohol office, made a commitment to reduce alcohol consumption across the North East, supporting healthier lives in safer communities. It has been making significant inroads into this major undertaking through:

Informing and educating
To provide a baseline for its work, Balance launched the North East Big Drink Debate (BDD) in June 2009. More than 12,000 North Easterners completed a survey identifying their attitudes towards and relationships with alcohol and the circumstances which would encourage them to consume less.

Balance has been raising awareness of the damage caused by alcohol misuse in terms of health, crime and disorder and the economy. It has organised a number of wide ranging and high profile communications campaigns, including supporting the Department of Children Schools and Families’ ‘why let drink decide?’ campaign and the Department of Health’s hidden health harms campaign. In October, Balance issued findings from the BDD, creating more than 5m opportunities across print, broadcast and online to see or hear key messages on alcohol’s ‘second-hand’ impact on the family. Evaluation of the campaign showed the right messages reached te target audience. More than one in three surveyed said they would change their behaviour as a result of the campaign.

Best practice
Balance has been meeting stakeholders to complete an alcohol mapping exercise to identify where the region needs to focus its efforts to tackle alcohol related problems. It sets out how the region’s approach to alcohol commissioning, treatment, intervention and criminal justice is planned and delivered, highlighting best practice, gaps in the system and areas for improvement.

Balance has been making Government and other key decision makers aware of the region’s problem with alcohol. This year, the office published a price survey showing just how cheaply strong alcohol is available through the off-trade in each of the region’s 12 local authority areas. Building on this, Balance worked alongside the North East’s Directors of Public Health to send an open letter to Government calling for the introduction of a minimum price per unit of alcohol and encouraged stakeholder organisations to contact their local MP on the issue. The office also hosted a meeting of leading national alcohol awareness organisations – including Alcohol Concern and Alcohol Health Alliance UK to reach a common approach to tackling alcohol misuse at national level and positioning the North East as a leader in this area.