THE Royal Bolton Hospital was one of the first in the world to have a seven-dayper- week specialist alcohol service — which doctors say is now freeing up more than 1,000 bed places per year.
Hospital alcohol specialist Dr Kieran Moriarty says recognition of the importance of specialist alcohol nurses is already reaping rewards.
Dr Moriarty, a consultant gastroenterologist, said the hospital introduced the specialist nurses six years ago.
He said: “The Royal Bolton Hospital was definitely the first hospital in the UK and probably the first in the world to have a seven-day-a-week alcohol nurse service.
“We have had two specialist nurses since 2006—one specialising in liver and one in psychiatry.
“We now have four of them.
Working together they have been saving the trust 1,000 bed days a year in detoxifications.
“Alcohol specialist nurses pay for themselves at least five to 10 times. Every £1 spent we save £5 for the UK economy.”
The nurses work across the hospital, including at A&E, on wards and with outpatients.
They flag up any patients affected by alcohol and offer them the necessary support.
For example, Dr Moriarty explains: “If a patient had a wound and got sewn up in hospital and a specialist alcohol nurse realised it was related to alcohol and violence, the person could be educated about alcohol and would be more likely to cut down their alcohol consumption.
“The nurses are improving quality of care and reducing inpatient stays by reducing the number of detoxifications.
“They are getting more and more referrals — the referrals are going up at a rapid rate,” he said.
The nurses aim to offer care before patients are at a critical level, which helps to reduce more expensive admissions.
Their importance has been highlighted in a recent report published by the government’s health select committee about alcohol strategy.
Dr Moriarty said Bolton is also one of the world’s leaders for treating alcohol misuse by asking patients to complete a survey about their drinking habits when they have an appointment with their doctors.