NICE publish new quality standard on alcohol dependence and harmful alcohol use

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The press release from NICE says that:

Quality standards are a set of specific, concise statements and associated measures [that] set out aspirational, but achievable, markers of high-quality, cost-effective patient care, covering the treatment and prevention of different diseases and conditions.

NICE have already published quality standards on dementia and depression in adults and they have now added to the mental health conditions that are covered by publishing a new quality standard on alcohol misuse, which defines clinical best practice in this area. It provides specific, concise quality statements and measures to provide the public, health and social care professionals, commissioners and service providers with definitions of high-quality care.

Here are the 13 quality statements from the publication:

  1. Health and social care staff receive alcohol awareness training that promotes respectful, non-judgmental care of people who misuse alcohol.
  2. Health and social care staff opportunistically carry out screening and brief interventions for hazardous and harmful drinking as an integral part of practice.
  3. People who may benefit from specialist assessment or treatment for alcohol misuse are offered referral to specialist alcohol services and are able to access specialist alcohol treatment.
  4. People accessing specialist alcohol services receive assessments and interventions delivered by appropriately trained and competent specialist staff.
  5. Adults accessing specialist alcohol services for alcohol misuse receive a comprehensive assessment that includes the use of validated measures.
  6. Children and young people accessing specialist services for alcohol use receive a comprehensive assessment that includes the use of validated measures.
  7. Families and carers of people who misuse alcohol have their own needs identified, including those associated with risk of harm, and are offered information and support.
  8. People needing medically assisted alcohol withdrawal are offered treatment within the setting most appropriate to their age, the severity of alcohol dependence, their social support and the presence of any physical or psychiatric comorbidities.
  9. People needing medically assisted alcohol withdrawal receive medication using drug regimens appropriate to the setting in which the withdrawal is managed in accordance with NICE guidance.
  10. People with suspected, or at high risk of developing, Wernicke’s encephalopathy are offered thiamine in accordance with NICE guidance.
  11. Adults who misuse alcohol are offered evidence-based psychological interventions, and those with alcohol dependence that is moderate or severe can in addition access relapse prevention medication in accordance with NICE guidance.
  12. Children and young people accessing specialist services for alcohol use are offered individual cognitive behavioural therapy, or if they have significant comorbidities or limited social support, a multicomponent programme of care including family or systems therapy.
  13. People receiving specialist treatment for alcohol misuse have regular treatment outcome reviews, which are used to plan subsequent care.
NICE have also published a set of resources aimed at commissioners of alcohol services.  These include a commissioning guide and a benchmarking tool.


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Andre Tomlin

André Tomlin is an Information Scientist with 20 years experience working in evidence-based healthcare. He's worked in the NHS, for Oxford University and since 2002 as Managing Director of Minervation Ltd, a consultancy company who do clever digital stuff for charities, universities and the public sector. Most recently André has been the driving force behind the Mental Elf and the National Elf Service; an innovative digital platform that helps professionals keep up to date with simple, clear and engaging summaries of evidence-based research. André is a Trustee at the Centre for Mental Health and an Honorary Research Fellow at University College London Division of Psychiatry. He lives in Bristol, surrounded by dogs, elflings and lots of woodland!

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