An NHS alcohol team has used an event to mark a year since its creation to launch a special pledge.
The alcohol care team at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust hosted an event with a range of expert speakers this week.
The pledge includes the stark reality of the effect alcohol has on premature death and morbidity in the region as well as the two organisations’ responsibilities to take a lead on reducing alcohol harm and health inequalities.
The event at the University Hospital of North Tees included expert speakers in alcohol care from across the region and beyond.
Hayley Tranter, the Trust’s alcohol lead nurse, said: “The event was our opportunity to bring health professionals together to discuss the challenges and the way forward when it comes to caring for those affected by alcohol and tackling the health inequalities we have in our region.
“It was also a chance to launch the alcohol pledge both we and our health partners are jointly supporting to do what we can to help with this wide scale issue.
“Over the last year, we as a Trust have done so much to help those affected by alcohol – but we know we need to do more.”
The event included discussion on issues including scale of the issue actions taken over the last year, the community drug and alcohol service, alcohol related brain disease, how alcohol affects the liver and information about Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome – a brain condition caused by alcohol.
It also included feedback from a member of the Trust’s sponsors from its hospital alcoholics anonymous groups.
The woman, who suffered with alcohol addiction herself, told the audience: “The groups have helped people realise that they are not alone.
“Since starting the meetings in a few months ago we have had a wonderful response.We have 12 ambassadors – we visit patients on the wards and work with the alcohol care team.
“Some of the patients we speak to are not ready for our help – we all have our own journey – but we try to speak to as many as we can.
“To hear someone else’s story shows there is hope out there. I know I can never drink again.
“To work with patients and get them on the right track has been so powerful.”
Alcohol is linked to more than 200 illnesses, including heart disease, stroke, cancer and mental ill health, many of which impact people not considered ‘problem drinkers’.