New research has suggested that if the NHS were to change the way it dealt with alcoholic patients, they could save up to £27 million a year in England, alone. Currently, alcohol abuse costs the NHS £3.8 billion annually as the underlying causes behind such issues are rarely addressed leading to increased pressures on the already creaking NHS budget. This topic was the subject on analysis on the recent BBC Victoria Derbyshire programme.
Failure to admit patients into rehabilitation leads to relapse and future readmission. It is estimated that one in three A&E admissions in the UK are alcohol related, rising as high as 70% of medical emergencies being alcohol-related at the weekend.
One such area attempting to change the way alcoholic patients are treated, and saving money as a result, is the Radar ward at the Chapman Barker unit of Greater Manchester West. The ward takes patients directly from 11 A&E departments across the area, and has highlighted the serious problem posed by alcohol abuse to the NHS.
Lead consultant Dr Chris Daly said: “We were very surprised that a significant proportion, maybe as much as 50% of the patients, were not open to any services and some of them had never been seen by alcohol services before, so it’s almost as if we’re dealing with a different sort of population. These are people who are maybe only using their A&E department as their main source of treatment for their alcohol problems.”
Those who attempt to fight their addiction with rehab seem to fare much better than those who go on their own. The statistics from the ward show that 75% of rehabilitated patients are not readmitted to hospital for the next three months while it is estimated that half of alcohol-dependent patients develop clinical symptoms during withdrawal which must be treated such as fits, seizures and hallucinations.
An independent analysis of the Radar unit’s results, published in April 2015 by academics at Liverpool John Moores University, found that by treating patients with rehabilitation instead of just their immediate symptoms, the hospital could save the NHS £1.3 million per year. If this was adopted across the board, it would have the potential to save £27.5 million a year in England, alone.