Alcohol-related brain damage in Northern Ireland (CR212 Apr 2018)

This Report shines the light on an often neglected harm associated with alcohol use, Brain disease. It sets out the harm it causes both to society and the individual. It also sets out what needs to happen in Northern Ireland to tackle this problem.

Impact of ARBD in Northern Ireland

The effects of alcohol misuse in Northern Ireland have been estimated to cost up to £900 million a year, with almost £250 million put down to the health and social care sector. 

There’s a widespread understanding amongst health care professionals that ARBD is a current and growing problem, and that the gap in service provision is expanding. 

Current Service provision

Patients with ARBD don’t  have their needs met by standard mental and physical health services. 

Like many  areas of the UK, there are no clear care pathways in Northern Ireland for managing patients with ARBD. 

There are several facilities in the region with specific ARBD units but there’s no standardised or formal approach to the treatment given. 

This report concludes that this patient group are  being neglected, with few patients having access to any kind of specialised treatment. 

This report has identified the need for a designated ARBD multidisciplinary team to be established in each Health and Social Care Trust, which would have access to an assessment unit. 

Making progress for those with ARBD

Such a unit would accept referrals from acute hospitals, as a step-down, for a period of assessment. 

The team would require psychiatry input, as well as from other disciplines, such as mental health nursing, social work, occupational therapy, psychology and support workers. 

There are, however, important building blocks already in place that, with further investment; planning; and formalisation, could develop into an excellent ARBD service

Specialist ARBD services elsewhere in the UK are demonstrating positive outcomes in terms of improvements in patients’ cognition and functioning, as well as dramatic cost savings. 

In light of this increasing evidence base, there is a vision for NI that patients with ARBD in Northern Ireland will be provided with treatment, not just care.

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