News in brief

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Mixed results

The overall performance of the drug and alcohol Payment by Results (PbR) pilots has been ‘mixed’ so far, according to a report from the Department of Health. However it remains ‘too early to judge’, says the document, as changes to services will take time to embed, and the reports will now be updated every quarter. Performance of payment by results pilot areas: April 2012 to February 2013 at www.gov.uk

 

Act impact

Alcohol sales in Scotland fell by 2.6 per cent per adult in the year after the introduction of the 2011 Alcohol etc. (Scotland) Act – which included a ban on multi-buy promotions – according to figures from NHS Scotland. There was a 4 per cent drop in the amount of wine sold in off-licences as well as an 8.5 per cent fall in sales of pre-mixed drinks such as alcopops. Factors such as changes in income and price were taken into account, say the researchers. ‘These findings show that the Alcohol Act has had the intended impact of reducing alcohol consumption in Scotland by placing restrictions on how alcohol is displayed and promoted,’ said study lead Mark Robinson. www.healthscotland.com

 

Stark warning

NHS Lanarkshire has issued a public health warning following the notification of two cases of the ‘flesh eating’ necrotising fasciitis infection in injecting drug users, both of whom have died. There is also a third possible case, the agency has said. ‘We would advise drug users not to inject heroin and warn that muscle-popping, skin-popping, and injecting when a vein has been missed are particularly dangerous,’ said NHS Lanarkshire public health consultant Dr Josephine Pravinkumar. ‘Smoking heroin carries much less risk than injecting it. If there is any pain or swelling around an injection site drug users should seek urgent medical attention.’

 

Setting standards

A new quality standard on preventing harmful alcohol use will be developed by NICE, in partnership with Public Health England, the agency has announced. NICE quality standards set out high-priority areas for quality and apply across the NHS, social care and public health. The standard would be ‘a valuable tool for local authorities as they take on their new public health functions’, said deputy chief executive Professor Gillian Leng.

 

Mutual aid

A ‘comprehensive package of measures to help the voluntary sector and mutuals compete for contracts to cut reoffending’ has been announced by the Ministry of Justice and the Cabinet Office as part of the government’s controversial Transforming rehabilitation programme. The measures will ‘support new and existing providers from the voluntary, social enterprise and private sectors, changing the way offenders are rehabilitated through the gate and into the community’, says the government. www.justice.gov.uk/transforming-rehabilitation/voluntary-sector-and-probation-mutuals  See news focus, page 6

 

See me

Many pupils have gaps in their knowledge and skills in ‘serious safeguarding areas’ of personal safety including mental health and alcohol misuse, according to an Ofsted report on PSHE provision in primary and secondary education. Not yet good enough: personal, social, health and economic education in schools at www.ofsted.gov.uk

 

McLellan move

Former deputy director of the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), Tom McLellan (DDN, 15 March 2010, page 6) has been appointed as an independent adviser by Public Health England (PHE). ‘As an internationally recognised authority on addiction treatment and recovery, he will provide immensely valuable input to our developing programmes of work,’ said PHE director of health and wellbeing, Professor Kevin Fenton. 

 

Not working 

The government’s Work Programme is ‘unlikely to reach the most disadvantaged long-term unemployed people’, according to a report from the Work and Pensions Committee, with the programme’s performance ‘poor’ in its first 14 months. The findings confirmed DrugScope’s concerns that the programme was failing people with drug and alcohol problems, said chief executive Martin Barnes. Report at www.publications.parliament.uk

 

Testing times

Hepatitis C testing in prisons should be a ‘continuous offer’, according to a report from the Hepatitis C Trust. Just 6 per cent of inmates were tested for the virus in 2011, despite an estimated one in ten prisoners living with hepatitis C. Addressing hepatitis C in prisons and other places of detention at www.hepctrust.org.uk