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Health / Improvement plan in the offing for health board’s alcohol interventions

NHS Shetland chairman Gary Robinson has reiterated his concern over anecdotal evidence suggesting more people in the isles have been drinking alcohol to dangerous levels during the pandemic.

He told a meeting of the health board on Tuesday that he was “really disappointed” to see figures for alcohol brief interventions (ABI), which remain well below target.

“I think this is something we really do need to focus on and get to grips with,” Robinson said.

Public health director Susan Webb said an improvement plan on alcohol brief interventions was being created, although the timescale for this has been disrupted due to Covid-19.

The number of screenings for ABIs remain high, but patients do not tend to meet the threshold for a full intervention.

A report to members said that this could mean that people are not drinking at harmful levels, or the screenings are being targeted at the wrong people.

Webb told Tuesday’s meeting that there are also instances of where people may not be revealing their true alcohol consumption.

She said the origins of the intervention scheme is in the primary care environment and there are hopes to extend this.

National charity Drink Aware describes a brief intervention as a “short, evidence-based, structured conversation about alcohol consumption” which “seeks to motivate and support the individual to consider a change in their drinking behaviour in order to reduce their risk of harm”.

The health board, meanwhile, also heard that the projected net revenue cost for its Covid-19 response – including social care expenditure – is £7.9 million.

The cost is being covered by the Scottish Government.