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Nurses to lead front-line campaign to cut alcohol related injuries and illnesses

10 Ionawr 2013

An innovative campaign to cut the growing tide of binge drinking and alcohol related injuries and illnesses, is set to be rolled out across the NHS in Wales.

With a steady increase in alcohol-related hospital admission over the past 10 years, the ‘Have a Word’ campaign has been launched today (10 January 2013) to deliver a sustainable alcohol brief intervention programme nationally.

The all-Wales initiative has been developed by Cardiff University in partnership with the Welsh Government, and Public Health Wales. Present at the launch event, held in Cardiff’s Temple of Peace, were Lesley Griffiths AM, Minister for Health and Social Services and Professor Jonathan Shepherd CBE at Cardiff University, whose award-winning research has informed the development of the programme.

Trials conducted by the Violence Research Group at Cardiff University by the research group, working with nurses who remove stitches following alcohol-related injury, demonstrated that opportunistic brief interventions (see video) were highly effective. The results showed significant long-term reductions in drinking for 1 in 4 people who had previously consumed alcohol at hazardous levels.

The ‘Have a Word’ training enables nurses to screen patients for alcohol misuse and to deliver brief interventions for those patients identified as drinking at hazardous levels.

Professor Jonathan Shepherd, Director of the Violence and Society Research Group and Professor of Oral and Maxillofacial surgery at Cardiff University’s School of Dentistry said: "A brief intervention is a structured conversation between the patient and the nurse, known to motivate the patient to change their drinking behaviour. The aims are to prompt the patient to recognise the harm which their drinking has caused, especially the wound being treated; to review their drinking; to set themselves drinking limits and to make and act on decisions to reduce their hazardous drinking."

Research shows that alcohol consumption has risen by 19% since 1980 and a quarter of Wales’s adult population now drink at hazardous levels. In 2011, UK caused by alcohol misuse rose to a record 17,000. Alcohol-related conditions cost the NHS £2.7 billion annually, and in Wales alone, alcohol health problems cost the NHS £70-£85 million per year.

Professor Shepherd continued: "Recognising the need for effective and efficient training programmes for nurses, we have developed a dedicated two-hour course which has been accredited by the Royal College of Nursing and Agored Cymru. The initiative establishes screening and brief interventions as a routine part of nursing practice in Wales."

Lesley Griffiths AM, Minister for Health and Social Services, said: "Every week in Wales, 1,200 hospital admissions are attributed to alcohol. We know the cost to the NHS in Wales and the cost to people’s health is enormous. I am delighted to launch this campaign."

Dr Sarah Jones, Consultant in Public Health Wales, added:

"Alcohol misuse has been identified as the third most important risk factor for ill health in Europe after tobacco and high blood pressure. Drinking at these excessive levels contributes to a range of medical conditions including cancers, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, gastro-intestinal diseases, neuropsychiatric disorders as well as accidental injury and violence."

The initiative is the product of a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) between Cardiff University and the Welsh Government, the first such partnership which involves a UK government.

For more information, visit the Violence and Society Research Group webpage and search #haveaword on twitter.


Notes to Editors

Publication details:

Tackling Alcohol Misuse – A nurse-led initiative in maxillofacial and trauma clinics in Wales (Nursing Times 13/08/2012 – authors: Paul Jordan, Kathryn Bridgeman, Jonathan Shepherd)

Smith, A. J., Hodgson, R. J., Bridgeman, K. and Shepherd, J. P. (2003), A randomized controlled trial of a brief intervention after alcohol-related facial injury. Addiction, 98: 43–52.

For further information or to arrange a media interview, please contact:

Tomas Llewelyn Barrett
Public Relations
Cardiff University
Tel: 029 20 875 596
Mobile: 07950792532


Sian Taylor
Golley Slater
Office: 029 2078 6019
Mobile: 07875 581908