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Nurses set to lead fight against alcohol related injuries

21 December 2009

Welsh nurses are set to lead the fight against the rising tide of binge drinking and alcohol related injuries, as part of a unique initiative led by the Welsh Assembly Government.

Patients who return to hospital for follow-up treatment after a drink related injury are set to receive advice from nurses on their alcohol intake in a bid to help them change their drinking habits.

This all-Wales initiative, due to start in February, is part of a unique Cardiff University and NHS Wales link-up designed to target drinkers who usually do not need specialist alcohol treatment but whose drinking is likely to damage their health in the long term.

Research by Jonathan Shepherd, Professor of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at Cardiff University’s Violence Research Group has found that it is possible to detect alcohol misuse and treat it using brief interventions when patients with injuries return to hospital – trauma and maxillofacial clinics for standard injury care.

Nurses who work in trauma and maxillofacial clinics across Wales are being encouraged to be trained to deliver the brief interventions. This also provides an opportunity for continuing professional development and can be used towards a nursing degree or diploma.

Professor Shepherd said: "Excessive drinking is a major cause of illness, injury, and behavioural problems in Wales."

"The Chief Medical Officer for Wales’ latest annual report found that some 45,000 hospital admissions and 1,000 deaths every year in Wales are linked to alcohol misuse.

"One way to address this is through brief interventions. Hospital treatment can be a sobering experience for people and evidence shows that people are more receptive to healthcare messages when they are delivered in a clinical setting.

"It is for this reason that this unique partnership between the NHS and a leading University is the means of transferring our expert knowledge for the practical benefit of Welsh patients."

In a letter to all Nurse Directors, Heads of Nursing and Midwifery Higher Education Institutions and Senior Nurse Advisors in Wales, the Chief Medical Officer and the Chief Nursing Officer for Wales are urging support for the new initiative.

Dr Tony Jewell, Chief Medical Officer for Wales, said: "The Welsh Assembly Government’s substance misuse strategy has provided the impetus for the provision of training in how to identify high-risk individuals and how to give advice in primary care settings, A&E departments and other settings.

"In my recent letter to the service I highlighted the need to educate people about the health risks associated with exceeding safe drinking limits and make sure the health service takes this opportunity to engage fully in this training programme.

Rosemary Kennedy, Chief Nursing Officer for Wales said "Binge drinking culture is getting worse in Wales. Evidence-based interventions will help reduce the long term damage from excessive drinking and the increasing burden on the NHS."

Cardiff University
Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities. Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, the University today combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise in research and research-led teaching encompasses: the humanities; the natural, physical, health, life and social sciences; engineering and technology; preparation for a wide range of professions; and a long-standing commitment to lifelong learning. The University has just established the Universities Police Science Institute, a joint venture with South Wales Police and the University of Glamorgan, which will be the first institute in England and Wales dedicated to addressing issues facing modern police forces. Cardiff is a member of the Russell Group of Britain’s leading research universities.

The University website is at:

The Violence and Society Research Group website is at

Professor Jonathan Shepherd
School of Dentistry
Cardiff University
Telephone 029 20742442 or 20744215
Mobile 07779 490022