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Hospital partnership cuts alcohol-related admissions

A new dedicated team has helped divert nearly two-thirds of alcohol-related hospital admissions away from one of London’s busiest emergency departments as part of a plan to refer patients to better sources of care and reduce the pressures on A&E.

Joshua Stapleton, Mental Health Nurse and Lead of the King’s Health Partners Alcohol Care Team, explains what the team does and how they are helping to improve outcomes for people with alcohol problems. 

ACT care teamThe King’s Health Partners Alcohol Care Team is based at King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and run by staff at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust. King’s Health Partners is a partnership between three London NHS Foundation Trusts and King’s College London.

The team, which was initially launched as a six-month pilot, assesses patients who present at A&E to identify the best treatment options, including referring on to community services where appropriate. The service has now been given funding to continue as a permanent service.

[Image: The King's Health Partners Alcohol Care Team ]

Since launching in October 2018, the team has diverted 65% of all alcohol-related visits to other sources of support and treatment. This represents a potential saving of 718.5 bed days freed up for staff and other patients.  

Where patients have been admitted to hospital, the service has reduced the average length of their stay to 38% below the national average. Alcohol-related admissions have reduced to 3.9 days at the hospital, more than a third lower than the national average of 6.3 days.

When admitted to hospital, often for another acute medical need, the team ensures a patient’s withdrawal symptoms are appropriately managed, reviewing them daily and providing psychosocial interventions. Strong links with community drug and alcohol services and an outpatient detox pathway have been established to improve continuity of care for patients being discharged from hospital.

Figures published as part of NHS Digital’s Statistics on Alcohol report showed there were 338,000 admissions to hospital in 2017/18 where the main cause was due to drinking alcohol - a 15% increase over ten years. The recently published NHS Long-Term Plan identified that alcohol-related hospital admissions are a growing burden on the NHS and that the formation of alcohol care teams like this one should be a national priority.

Joshua Stapleton, King’s Health Partners Alcohol Care Team Service Lead, said:

While we are delighted to have reduced bed days and admissions, this service has always been about patients, ensuring they receive the most appropriate care whilst here and enabling them to get longer term community support if they require it. The pilot project has proven just what a difference having a dedicated team can make to both the hospital and to patients. We are delighted to have secured recurrent funding which enables us to continue our good work. It also enables us to put longer term plans in place to support patients and staff within the hospital as well as expand what we are able to provide.
Our service is multidisciplinary. It includes specialist liaison nurses, a consultant addictions psychiatrist, a consultant hepatologist, a pharmacist, and an administrator, enabling us to deliver whole person care to the people we see. This is a crucial requisite to improving the outcomes of people with alcohol problems.

Staff on the Denmark Hill site can refer patients to the Alcohol Care Team via the electronic patient register (EPR) system and can obtain current contact details on the KWIKI internal web-based information resource.

King’s Health Partners Mind & Body is committed to joining up mental and physical healthcare, training and research to improve health outcomes for our patients and service users.

The King’s Health Partners Addictions Clinical Academic Group are one of the largest providers of NHS addictions services in the UK.