Friday, September 05, 2014

King's College Hospital

Maurice and I visited King's this morning as part of the Day of Action on Alcohol Harm organised by the Royal Colleges, Alcohol Concern and the Institute of Alcohol Studies, Ms Jacqueline Green, Head of Stakeholder Relations, met us and took us to see Dr Michael Heneghan, Liver Consultant, Professor Heaton, Head of the Liver Unit, and Dr Will Bernal, Consultant, Liver Intensive Therapy Unit, We then moved to Todd Ward where we met Anne McKenna, Deputy Head of Nursing, Liver and Renal Surgery, and Natalie Huxtable, Matron, Liver. Then we attended the Liver Transplant meeting, where all the experts discuss the eligibility of candidates for liver transplants. King's is the largest and most successful centre for treatment of liver failure in the UK, and their available beds are full all the time, but the demand exceeds supply. After that we met Ian Webzell, Alcohol and Substance Misuse Clinical Nurse Specialist for a discussion on the post-operative treatment of patients with alcohol problems, a high proportion of whom relapse Nobody has a definitive answer to this problem, but there is universal agreement among NHS professionals that Government should be doing far more on prevention.

Everybody knows that the two main levers affecting consumption of alcohol are price and availability. Minimum unit pricing is a no-brainer, and the restoration of the alcohol duty escalator is another.  Local authorities should have stronger powers to control the proliferation of alcohol sales outlets, and all-night drinking should be reversed. What we need, as one of the professionals we met today underlined, was a commitment by the Government to reducing alcohol consumption on a par with the successful campaign against smoking of the last decade.

Maurice took the photograph: Ian Webzell is on my right, Dr Heneghqan on my left, and Jacqueline Green,  far left

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