Health risks from alcohol: new guidelines

Collection of Glasses
Image source: Flickr

The Department of Health has published proposed new guidelines on alcohol which aim to limit the health risks that result from drinking.  The Department is consulting on 3 main recommendations on safe levels of alcohol consumption: a weekly guideline on regular drinking; advice on single episodes of drinking; and a guideline on pregnancy and drinking.  Supporting documentation is available and the consultation closes on 1 April 2016.

Additional links: DH press release  NICE press release   BBC News report

The Frailty Fulcrum

NHS England

The concept of frailty as a long-term condition brings with it the opportunity to adopt a much more proactive, person-centred, community-based approach to care.

Achieving this requires a new approach to care, particularly through supporting self-care.  This new approach will be enabled through a wider awareness of frailty and a greater shared understanding of the condition.

The ‘frailty fulcrum’ is an animated model for frailty that has been developed with these opportunities in mind. This model aims to provide a ‘common language’ for frailty that can be shared between individuals, carers and professionals.  It offers an interpretation of frailty that is meaningful, relevant and sustainable for people living with the condition, throughout their journeys of care.


The frailty fulcrum highlights the multi-dimensional nature of frailty.  It considers the many different aspects of our lives that contribute to our overall wellbeing through a series of domains. The domains identified in the model are:

  • Social environment, including our families, our friends, our communities, any of the people or places that are important to us.
  • Physical environment, which is our homes in particular but also the many places that we visit as we live our lives.
  • Psychological status, which includes both specific conditions, such as anxiety, or more general feelings like a loss of confidence or a lack of motivation.
  • Long-term conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease or respiratory conditions.
  • Acute health problems, including for example, infections or injuries.
  • Systems of care, which have a direct impact upon wellbeing, not just through the care that they provide, but also through the way in which they deliver that care.

Read the full article via NHS England


Economic costs of obesity

The UK Health Forum and Cancer Research UK have published Tipping the scales: why preventing obesity makes economic sense.  The report found that rising rates of obesity and overweight could lead to 700,000 new cancer cases in the UK, as well as millions of new cases of type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and stroke. This would cost the NHS an additional £2.5 billion a year by 2035 over and above what is already spent on obesity related disease.  The report calls on the Government to introduce a 20p per litre tax on sugary drinks as well as a 9pm watershed ban on TV advertising of junk food as part of a comprehensive children’s obesity strategy.

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Additional links: Cancer Research UK press release    BBC News report

Alcohol-specific activity in hospitals in England

A report from Nuffield Trust investigates the growing burden of alcohol-related activity on hospitals in England and concludes that the NHS faces a stark challenge in trying to deal with the consequences of harmful drinking.

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It finds that emergency admissions to hospital specific to alcohol have increased by over 50% in nine years and now top a quarter of a million a year, while the rate of people attending A&E with probable alcohol poisoning has doubled in six years.

Read the full report here

Public Health England urges parents to get “sugar smart”.

Public Health England has launched a new campaign to encourage parents to get “Sugar Smart” and take control of their children’s sugar intake.

A new Sugar Smart app has been launched to help parents see how much sugar there is in everyday food and drink. The free app works by scanning the barcode of products and revealing the amount of total sugar it contains in cubes and grams.

The Sugar Smart app is available for free from the app store and google play.

Change4Life has created an eye-opening short film to warn parents about the health harms of eating and drinking too much sugar, including becoming overweight and tooth decay.

Read more here

Reducing missed hospital appointments using text messages

The Department of Health has published results of a trial of a system of text message reminders to reduce missed outpatient appointments.

This randomised controlled trial tested the effectiveness of the reminder message sent to outpatients. Results showed if the message included the specific cost to the NHS of not attending then the patient was more likely to attend or rearrange their appointment – rather than miss it.

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The full analysis has been published in a peer-reviewed journal article:

Full reference: Hallsworth M, Berry D, Sanders M, Sallis A, King D, et al. (2015)  Stating Appointment Costs in SMS Reminders Reduces Missed Hospital Appointments: Findings from Two Randomised Controlled Trials. PLoS ONE 10(10)