Patients with alcohol related harm issues will soon be receiving faster, more effective support when admitted to the University Hospital of North Tees thanks to the introduction of an expert alcohol care team.
Led by specialist nurse Hayley Douglas and Neil Parks, an associate practitioner from gastroenterology, the team will support in-patients with alcohol-related conditions. The team is continuing to expand with further staff coming into post over the coming months.
Neil said: “Patients’ presenting complaints at hospital can be varied and their alcohol consumption may be overlooked or underestimated. For many people with alcohol dependency issues, simply stopping can be very dangerous and they need managing through the assisted withdrawal process.
“We will be on the wards, working with the nursing team, medical staff and the patients to ensure that all of the patients alcohol related needs are being met and supporting to prescribe the right course of withdrawal medication to help the patient as their treatment continues into the community.”
All patients who drink alcohol will be asked a few simple questions called the Audit C. This will help staff decide whether a referral to the alcohol care team is needed. If so, the alcohol care team will then complete the full audit on their initial assessment.
Audit C establishes a score with prompts the correct level of support from the team:
- A total of 5 or more is a positive screen
- 0 to 4 indicates low risk
- 5 to 7 indicates increasing risk
- 8 to10 indicates higher risk
- 11 to 12 indicates possible dependence
Nurse Hayley Douglas commented: “Alcohol dependency is a disease, not a choice.
“The best way to deal with it is to treat it as a disease and support the patient throughout the withdrawal process and beyond.
“After leaving hospital, we’ll be referring our patients to close partners in community recovery support services in Stockton, Hartlepool and County Durham to make sure the patient’s ongoing alcohol needs are still met.
“We will also be supporting patients with any social care needs. All of our assessments are patient centred and we aim to develop a discharge plan which addresses the issues that matter most to the individual.
“Factors such as housing, debt, caring responsibilities and mental health can all impact on peoples’ alcohol use and the team will motivate, advise and signpost patients to improve their overall wellbeing.”
The North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust alcohol care team will be on the wards from Monday 18 July.