News in brief

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A round up of news from the field.

Heavy toll

Two million patients a year are presenting to hospital emergency departments with alcohol-related illness or injury, resulting in 640,000 hospital admissions, according to researchers at University Hospitals, Bristol. The research team extrapolated figures from Bristol Royal Infirmary’s emergency department to England and Wales as a whole. The annual cost to the NHS of alcohol-related injury and illness is estimated at £2.7bn. Study at http://emj.bmj.com

Get random

Randomised control trials (RCTs) should be used much more extensively in formulating public policy, according to a study by Bad Science author Ben Goldacre, director of the University of York’s trials unit, David Torgersen and Laura Haynes and Owain Service of the Home Office’s behavioural insights team. Test, learn, adapt sets out all the steps necessary to set up an RCT. Available at www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk

A Liddell gong

Scottish Drugs Forum (SDF) director David Liddell has been awarded an OBE. Active in the substance misuse and homelessness sector for more than 30 years, he co-founded the SDF in 1986 in response to Scotland’s growing drugs problem. The award was ‘testament to the efforts of the incredibly gifted and committed people – professionals, drug users and their families – we have worked alongside for many years and who continue to strive to make better the lives of some of the most stigmatised, marginalised and deprived members of our society,’ he said.

New CQC head

The Department of Health’s director general of social care, local government and care partnerships, David Behan, has been announced as the new chief executive of the Care Quality Commission (CQC). A former chief inspector of the Commission for Social Care Inspection, he has worked in the health and social care sector since 1978. ‘I am delighted to have been given this opportunity to lead the organisation that takes action where services are poor and unsafe, whilst providing assurance that our health and care services achieve quality and outcomes for people which are amongst the best in the world,’ he said. Previous CQC head Cynthia Bower announced her resignation earlier this year following a number of high-profile controversies for the regulator (DDN, March, page 5).

New NTA resources

A new presentation that illustrates the crime reduction benefits of treatment is available on the NTA website. Treat addiction, cut crime is designed to make the case for investing in treatment for substance misusing offenders and encourage local decision makers to provide housing and support to help people stay off drugs. The agency has also produced a set of recovery resources organised around the drug-strategy outcomes, including evidence and guidance, case studies of local initiatives and links to other useful materials. While primarily aimed at commissioners, treatment services and professionals will also find them useful, says the NTA. www.nta.nhs.uk

Kent network

A network of new local ‘recovery alliances’ – partnerships made up of service users, community workers, local businesses and volunteers – has been formed in west Kent as part of a ‘Whole Person Recovery’ (DDN, 6 December 2010, page 18) project announced by the RSA. Services will be delivered by a consortium including the RSA, CRI and the Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, with drug users involved in the design and development of personalised treatment programmes. The contract has been awarded on a payment by results basis. ‘Traditional models have focused on treatment which is good but not enough,’ said RSA director of research, Steve Broome. ‘Our approach does not finish as treatment ends but instead focuses on helping people build bridges to participating in society.’

Ill-judged

Only a quarter of people with mental health problems are receiving treatment, according to a new report from the Centre for Economic Performance’s mental health policy group. ‘It is a real scandal that we have 6m people with depression or crippling anxiety conditions and 700,000 children with problem behaviours, anxiety or depression, yet three quarters of each group get no treatment,’ says How mental illness loses out in the NHS. ‘NHS commissioners are failing to commission the services recommended by NICE,’ it states. Available at http://cep.lse.ac.uk

Hep consultation

NICE is consulting on new guidance aimed at improving the uptake of testing for hepatitis B and C. Ignorance about risk factors and misconceptions about treatment need to be tackled if barriers to effective testing of those at increased risk are to be overcome, says the institute. Consultation at www.nice.org.uk