Alcohol storyA project to provide alcohol advice to Section 136 patients at South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust (SWLSTG) has got underway with the first people being offered expert guidance on how to cut their drinking.

The project was awarded a £10,000 grant to pilot the scheme, which involves a physical health assessment including blood tests and a session about alcohol consumption.

It was devised after a recent audit of admissions to the Section 136 unit at SWLSTG revealed that of the 245 individuals brought in, 108 (44%) were intoxicated.

Section 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983 empowers police to remove a person they believe to be suffering from mental illness from a public place, if they deem them to be a risk to themselves or others.

The audit revealed that patient intoxication lead to longer assessment times and a lower likelihood of being admitted to hospital. There is evidence that offering quick tips to problem drinkers can be helpful in directing people towards seeking further help.

Ward consultant, Dr Aileen O’Brien, said: “We have trained nurses in offering advice and taking blood. Talking about alcohol consumption with our patients could help them to think about dealing with problem drinking.

“Patients’ GPs will be informed of the results; this doesn’t routinely happen at the moment in the 136 suite unless patients are admitted. This may help to spot problems earlier and lead to quicker diagnosis and treatment.” The £10,000 grant was awarded by the South West London Academic and Social Care System, a partnership of organisations providing health and social care to the residents of Croydon, Richmond, Wandsworth, Sutton, Merton and Kingston.