National news from the substance misuse field

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News in brief

A round-up of national news – July 2015

Report it

A new campaign to raise awareness of LGBT hate crime, and urge people to report it, has been launched by a coalition of more than 30 organisations. While the Home Office recorded 100 such crimes a week in England and Wales in 2013, it’s estimated that only around 6 per cent of incidences are actually reported. ‘We know that people can turn to using drugs or alcohol as a means of coping with the stress of being targeted in a hate crime attack,’ said London Friend chief executive Monty Moncrieff (DDN, April, page 12). ‘We want to help people recognise incidents of hate crime, and provide support for them to both report it and deal with the emotional issues this might bring.’ www.lgbthatecrime.org.uk

 

Diabetes danger

Consuming 26 units of alcohol over a three-day period can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by up to five times, according to a new fact sheet from Alcohol Concern, with the risk ‘particularly acute’ in women. Just two drinks a day, meanwhile, can increase the risk of breast cancer by 18 per cent. ‘Alcohol is no ordinary item for consumption and people need to be more aware of the risks associated with its use,’ said chief executive Jackie Ballard. ‘Alcohol is linked to over 60 medical conditions including diabetes, cancer and high blood pressure. We need evidence-based health warnings and nutritional information to be made available on alcohol labels to allow people to make an informed choice.’ The charity is also calling for an increase in spirit duty of 4 per cent above inflation in this month’s budget. Fact sheets at www.alcoholconcern.org.uk

 

Scots’ strategy

A new strategy to address youth offending has been launched by the Scottish Government. Preventing offending: getting it right for children and young people focuses on a ‘whole-system approach’ based around early intervention. ‘If we are to stop young people going down the wrong path in life and into a life of crime we need to be smart in our response – ensuring timely, appropriate and effective interventions so that we can address offending behaviour at the outset and keep our communities and children safe from crime,’ said justice secretary Michael Matheson.

 

Admissions up

Hospital admissions in England for an alcohol-related disease, condition or injury rose by 5 per cent in the year to 2013-14, to 1,059,210, according to the latest set of alcohol statistics from ONS. Alcohol-related deaths were also up, by 1 per cent. The proportion of 16 to 24-year-olds who report ‘binge drinking’, however, has fallen by more than a third – from 29 per cent to 18 per cent – over the last decade. Statistics on alcohol, England, 2015 at www.ons.gov.uk

 

Cost concerns

Charities and liver specialists have written to health secretary Jeremy Hunt urging him to overturn attempts to limit the number of hepatitis C patients able to access new treatments. Organised by the Hepatitis C Trust, the letter expresses concern about NHS England’s ‘seemingly unprecedented requests’ for NICE to delay access to a new generation of drugs on affordability grounds. NICE has already ruled favourably on the cost-effectiveness of one drug, sofosbuvir, and is currently appraising others. ‘Patients have been waiting years for these new highly tolerable drugs that can cure almost everyone, all but eliminate hepatitis C in England and address a major health inequality,’ it states. NHS England’s arguments for delaying access were ‘absolutely ridiculous’, said Hepatitis C chief executive Charles Gore. Letter at www.hepctrust.org.uk

 

Temporary tactics

Two more ‘legal highs’ have been banned under a Temporary Class Drug Order (TCDO) while the government’s Psychoactive Substances Bill makes its way through Parliament (DDN, June, page 4). The compounds 4-Methylmethylphenidate and Ethylnaphthidate have been added to five already controlled in April (DDN, May, page 4) after having been found on sale as replacements for the banned drugs. ‘We are determined to protect young people from the dangers of so-called “legal highs” and target those who profit from their trade,’ said crime minister Mike Penning.

 

Crucial comparisons

A new study comparing urban drug policies across ten European capitals has been published by EMCDDA. Among the topics covered by Drugs policy and the city in Europe are the best ways to coordinate and fund city-level strategies. ‘It is within cities that new problems first become visible and we increasingly see innovative policies and measures developing,’ said EMCDDA director Wolfgang Götz. ‘I believe there is considerable scope for European cities to share their experiences and to learn from each other in this challenging policy area.’ Report at www.emcdda.europa.eu

 

PbR problems

Payment by results schemes are risky, hard to get right and costly for commissioners, according to a report from the National Audit Office. Credible evidence for their effectiveness is ‘now needed’, says Outcome-based payment schemes: government’s use of payment by results, adding that when poorly designed, PbR models – which account for around £15bn of public spending – can create ‘perverse incentives’ that prioritise people who are easier to help and neglect others. Document at www.nao.org.uk