The drink detectives
Doctors are to be trained to identify people with alcohol problems, reports Ruth de Las Casas
In the past few weeks UK medical schools have been allocated £650 000 (€0.82m; $1.27m) to teach medical students how to recognise alcohol misuse (http://news.bbc.co.uk, 14 Mar 2008 “Medics taught to spot drink abuse”). Dawn Primarolo, the public health minister, said at the BMA's public health conference in March that the identification and treatment of alcohol misuse will become part of the compulsory curriculum of bachelor of medicine and surgery degrees, giving rise to 60 000 specifically trained clinicians in the next 10 years. “Doctors and nurses are our eyes and ears when it comes to identifying problem drinkers,” she said.
Government statistics show that alcohol misuse contributes to as many as 22 000 deaths a year in the United Kingdom. An estimated 530 people die in incidents related to drink-driving, and alcohol is involved in 19 000 sexual assaults. And 360 000 experience domestic violence driven by alcohol (www.number-10.gov.uk/files/pdf/SU%20interim_report2.pdf).