Why is it a priority?

Drinking hazardously is common, we estimate that 25% of adults in Greenwich exceed the government’s recommendations for ‘safe’ drinking (14 units per week).

Alcohol is the 6th biggest risk factor contributing to the burden of disease. It is linked to cardiovascular conditions, liver disease and cancers. Alcohol accounts directly or indirectly for around 4,000 hospital episodes for Greenwich residents (6% of the total) and at least 5% of ambulance call-outs. There were 2,340 alcohol-related crimes recorded in Greenwich in 2012/13.

The harm from alcohol is concentrated in more deprived groups, and Greenwich’s poorest neighbourhoods have the highest rates of alcohol-related disease.

What could make a difference at a local level?
  • Systematic screening of adults and delivery at scale of brief interventions (BI) for people drinking above ‘safe’ levels, as BIs are effective in reducing volume of drinking. It is particularly important to increase BIs in high risk groups
  • Consistent evidence that the price, availability and marketing of alcohol are related to harm from alcohol, including enforcing minimum age of sales
  • Minimum unit pricing is an effective and progressive method of reducing harmful drinking
  • Good quality early years education, especially for the most deprived children, and school environments that promote learning and emotional development contribute to preventing alcohol misuse
  • Workplace prevention programmes, including provision of BIs, counselling and referral to treatment

What are the opportunities for improvement in Greenwich?
  • Scale up screening and brief interventions in primary care, and strengthen referral into behaviour change support and treatment
  • Robust licensing policies to limit availability of alcohol, enforcing minimum age of sales, and expanding the “Reducing the Strength” voluntary agreements with retailers and limiting price promotions, as part of a prevention strategy
  • Greenwich Healthy Early Years awards and London Healthy Schools Silver and Bronze awards
  • Ensure evidence informs workplace alcohol policies and BIs, and RGB to model best practice to other employers

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