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alcohol health alliance uk

SHA Annual Report copy

Posted 18/02/11

Now in its third year, Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, continues to make progress in reducing alcohol consumption across the North East.
The Office, the first of its kind in the UK and funded by the region’s PCTs and police forces, is tackling alcohol misuse by informing and educating, encouraging and supporting shared best practice and pushing for legislative change to reduce the harm done by alcohol misuse.
During 2010/11, the office planned and delivered several high profile awareness raising campaigns to encourage members of the public to think about how much they are drinking. As this annual report went to print, Balance was engaged in a campaign to help people understand the consequences of drinking at or above the Government’s recommended limits on a daily or almost daily basis. A month into the campaign, almost 4,000 people had sought further information.
Encouraging the dissemination of best practice has been central to Balance’s work during the year. Its ‘Reducing harm from alcohol’ event enabled practitioners to showcase successful projects such as a scheme which saw police and paramedics team up to deal with the aftermath of alcohol misuse. Balance was also instrumental in bringing Professor Sir Ian Gilmore to the region to discuss with health professionals how lessons learnt in the war on tobacco could be used to tackle alcohol misuse, as well as introducing the Dynamic Whole System Modelling Tool to health service planners and commissioners.
The office has been advocating legislative change to reduce the affordability and availability of alcohol, gaining key allies in regional politics, in the alcohol trade and staff on the frontline including doctors and nurses. A Balance campaign in August 2010 to raise awareness of alcohol’s impact on the public sector encouraged 3,500 North Easterners to make their concerns known to Government and call for a minimum price for alcohol.
Research carried out by the office at the end of last year, and compared to benchmark research gathered during 2009’s Big Drink Debate, reveals that the region’s attitudes to alcohol are shifting in the right direction. Almost half support a minimum price and would pay a little extra for alcohol if it reduced rowdy behaviour in public, crime and violence and the burden on the NHS. However, there remains plenty of work to do, with two in five people in the North East drinking at or above the Government’s recommended limits on a daily or almost daily basis, which could be storing up future health problems.