NHS Shetland is to receive more than £400,000 this year to tackle alcohol misuse.
The cash is a proportion of a total of £36 million to be shared between Scotland’s health boards to implement a range of measures designed to help people address their excessive drinking. Shetland will get £433,753.
The services offered in each area to tackle harmful drinking habits will be determined by local alcohol and drug services in line with local needs.
However, all areas will prioritise alcohol brief interventions which are designed to help people reflect on and address their drinking before it causes lasting health damage.
Alcohol and Drugs development officer Karen Smith, who works for Shetland’s Alcohol and Drugs Partnership, said of the money: “It is a standstill budget from last year but [nevertheless] it will be hugely helpful to go towards alcohol and drugs support services. We will be prioritising brief interventions.”
Brief interventions, introduced in 2008-9, are used when someone visits their GP or hospital and screening, in the form of asking them how much they drink, suggests that alcohol may be a factor in their ill-health. The interventions typically take the form of short motivational interviews, in which drinking habits are discussed, along with information about health risks, hopefully obviating the need for more specialist and expensive treatment later.
Ms Smith said some of the money would go towards training primary care staff in brief interventions, and some would be invested in prevention, treatment and support services such as the drugs project in Papa Stour, Shetland Bike Project, Turning Point and CADSS (Community Alcohol and Drugs Service Shetland).
Announcing this year’s funding allocation, Scottish government minister for health Nicola Sturgeon said: “It’s vital that we tackle Scotland’s drinking culture – too many people are drinking too much, too often and although they may not realise it it’s having a detrimental effect on their health.
“This funding will allow boards to continue their work to help people address their drinking before they cause lasting health damage.
“Brief interventions are a key part of our strategy and they’re not only clinically effective but also cost effective. By intervening early, we can maximise resources and – more importantly – save lives.
“The cost of excessive drinking is too high – both in financial and health terms – which is why it’s so important that we invest this money now in a healthy future for Scotland.”