The Prime Minister has today announced plans to introduce a minimum price per unit of alcohol in England and Wales alongside a ban of the sale of multi-buy discount deals.
The Alcohol Strategy is intended to tackle alcohol misuse which costs the UK an estimated £21 billion per year.
Commenting on the announcement, Omar Shakoor, from Pharmacy Voice said:
“We are pleased the Government is taking the issue of safe alcohol use seriously. Minimum pricing for alcohol can only work in coordination with other approaches including education. Healthy Living Pharmacies provide high quality NHS health and wellbeing services are already helping to tackle local public health challenges like alcohol misuse by better educating people about the risk of exceeding recommended alcohol units, using, for example, innovative alcohol scratch cards. Pharmacy is well placed to help provide this information and support – we need to see this more widely acknowledged by commissioners.”
NHS North West, which has the most challenging alcohol statistics in England, is running a pharmacy alcohol pilot across seven Primary Care Trusts to tackle alcohol misuse. Pharmacy teams provide advice and information on safe alcohol drinking and refer to specialist services where appropriate. A four week follow up with a pharmacist is also offered to patients.
Raymond Lee, Chair of Central Lancashire Local Pharmaceutical Committee said:
“An alcohol screening pilot run in community pharmacies in Blackpool has had great results. Six months in, 138 interventions have been made with 39% found to be in a high risk group. Pharmacy sees a different population from those who may visit a GP surgery or another setting. The aim is to try to include people who would probably not come into contact with other health services. Target groups include those with high blood pressure, gastric problems, depression, falls and associated injuries and vulnerable groups. Setting minimum alcohol pricing is one approach to tackling alcohol misuse but commissioning more pharmacy services would be an obvious way to have more of an effect. Clinical Commissioning Groups and Health and Well Being Boards must engage with Community Pharmacy in developing a more integrated approach.”