A round-up of National News


Alcohol-related admission rates are falling for the under-40s but rising among over-65s, according to the latest local alcohol profiles from PHE, with the overall rate of admissions remaining flat in 2014-15. ‘While it is good news that the rate of alcohol-related hospital admissions is falling in younger age groups, councils have concerns around the rise in admissions among over 65s,’ said LGA community and wellbeing spokesperson Izzi Seccombe. ‘These figures warn of the dangers of regular drinking over a long period of time and the impact this can have on the body of an older person, which is less able to handle the same level of alcohol as in previous years.’




One in five people surveyed by price comparison site Confused.com admitted to drug driving, with 7 per cent of cases involving illegal drugs. A quarter of 18 to 24-year-olds said they’d driven under the influence of drugs, putting the figures at odds with official police statistics that show just over 1,000 arrests for drug driving in the whole of 2012. A new offence of driving with more than the specified limit of a controlled drug in the body – with fines of up to £5,000 – was introduced last year (DDN, March 2015, page 4). ‘Drug driving is one of the most serious crimes a driver can commit and one that needs to be addressed to make our roads safer,’ said Confused.com spokesperson Gemma Stanbury.



A comprehensive guide to the Psychoactive Substances Act, including an explanation of its terminology, exemptions and sentencing framework has been produced by Release. Download it at www.release.org.uk



A new fund to support innovative local HIV prevention initiatives has been launched by PHE. The 2016-17 scheme, which has funding of up to £600,000, is particularly interested in proposals related to stigma, diagnosis and risky behaviours such as drug use, and represents an opportunity for ‘local areas to further benefit from national support’ said PHE’s national director of health and wellbeing, Kevin Fenton. Organisations can register their interest at hiv.prevention@phe.gov.uk



A&E staff lack the resources and training to provide the personalised support needed by people regularly attending for alcohol-related reasons, according to an Alcohol Research UK report. Assertive outreach strategies – in place at around 40 per cent of emergency departments – offer ‘good potential’ for effective help, it says. ‘Whilst we need to increase resources for people who frequently attend emergency departments for alcohol-related reasons, we must also recognise that they are all individuals who have very different needs,’ said lead researcher at King’s College London, Dr Joanne Neale. ‘We must therefore avoid stigmatising terminology and overly simplistic generalisations that assume people are all the same.’ The third national emergency department survey of alcohol identification and intervention activity at alcoholresearchuk.org



The number of teenage poisonings in the UK rose by 27 per cent between 1992 and 2012, according to research by Nottingham University, with almost 18,000 cases in all. The largest increases were for intentional poisonings among 16 to 17-year-old girls and alcohol-related poisonings among 15 to 16-year-old girls, both of which effectively doubled, while teenagers in the country’s most deprived areas were up to three times more likely to poison themselves – unintentionally or deliberately – than those in the least deprived. ‘Since intentional and alcohol-related adolescent poisoning rates are increasing, both child and adolescent mental health and alcohol treatment service provision needs to be commissioned to reflect this changing need,’ said lead researcher Dr Edward Tyrrell. www.nottingham.ac.uk



A new report on how governments and the UN could address ongoing worldwide developments in cannabis regulation and ‘help to modernise the drug treaty system itself’ has been published by Swansea University. Cannabis regulation and the UN drug treaties at www.swansea.ac.uk



New London mayor Sadiq Khan should make tackling homelessness in the capital his ‘first priority’, according to Lead London Home, a campaign launched by Crisis, St Mungo’s and other charities. More than 7,500 people – including nearly 900 under-25s – were seen sleeping rough in the capital by outreach teams last year. ‘As he embarks on his mayoralty, we call on Sadiq to work with us to develop and deliver ambitious policies to address this problem,’ said Crisis chief executive Jon Sparkes.


Karen Bradley‘LANDMARK’ LAW

The government’s controversial Psychoactive Substances Act has finally come into force, with sanctions in the ‘landmark’ legislation including up to seven years in prison for the production or supply of a ‘psychoactive substance for human consumption’. The act will ‘bring to an end the open sale on our high streets of these potentially harmful drugs and deliver new powers for law enforcement to tackle this issue at every level in communities, at our borders, on UK websites and in our prisons’, said crime minister Karen Bradley. However, 64 per cent of 16 to 24-year-olds surveyed by YMCA said they intended to continue using the substances in the future, despite the legislation.

The big ban theory at www.ymca.org.uk