‘Alcohol-related Liver Disease: Guidance for Good Practice’ launched

Posted on: 24th October 2017

‘Alcohol-related Liver Disease: Guidance for Good Practice’ launched by Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP)

The new guidance provides advice for health services, local authorities, criminal justice services and the voluntary sector to ensure consistency in approaches to prevention, treatment, care, support and recovery across the country. The national launch is the first in a series of dissemination events that will take place over the next two years.

Liver disease is one of the few major causes of premature mortality that is increasing, and deaths from liver disease have reached record levels. Mortality rates from Alcoholic Liver Disease (ALD) in Scotland have tripled since 1981, and in 2016, ALD accounted for 58% of all alcohol-related deaths in Scotland whilst hospital admissions for ALD have more than quadrupled since 1981/2.

Treatment for alcohol-related conditions in Scotland costs over £1m a day.

The report has been produced by clinicians, academics and health professionals specialising in liver care and/or public health, and the writing process included a national consultation event which was held in 2016. Report recommendations include the following:

  1. Specialist alcohol services should prioritise patients with evidence of alcohol-related liver damage for intervention. Services should actively, repeatedly and assertively engage with clients with alcohol-related liver damage.
  2. Patients admitted to hospital with alcohol-related liver failure should be managed immediately, in accordance with national guidelines, be reviewed by a physician with expertise in liver disease and be engaged with an alcohol treatment service prior to discharge.
  3. Health Boards and Integrated Joint Boards should facilitate the organisation of services to allow the operation of the care pathway recommendations.

Commenting on the launch, Dr Catherine Calderwood, Chief Medical Officer for Scotland, said:

“Alcoholic liver disease is a major cause of premature death in this country, and modelling data has shown that interventions to reduce alcohol consumption in these patients would be highly effective. This is a package of interventions that if implemented across the health service, could save the lives of patients who are most at risk of liver disease.”
Dr Tom Mackay, Vice President of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, added:

“The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh is proud to support SHAAP’s work to reduce alcohol-related. We look forward to welcoming clinicians involved in the care of patients, addiction support team workers, researchers and patient representatives to implement the findings of the report.”

Dr Eric Carlin, Director of SHAAP, said:

“Problematic alcohol use continues to harm the health and living conditions of many people across Scotland. As well as emphasising the need for evidence-based approaches to reduce population consumption, most notably Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP), it is essential that service providers have access to good practice guidance to join up prevention, treatment, support and recovery approaches. This is especially important in times of financial constraint.”

For more information see; Alcohol-related Liver Disease: Guidance for Good Practice

Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP) provides the authoritative medical and clinical voice on the need to reduce the impact of alcohol related harm on the health and wellbeing of people in Scotland and the evidence-based approaches to achieve this.