GPs and other primary care practitioners should not worry about being 'paragons of virtue' in their own drinking habits before they give advice on sensible drinking to patients, health minister Caroline Flint has said.

Ms Flint said she was aware that NHS staff were sometimes reluctant to give advice on alcohol intake because they themselves were not following it. 'But if we do that we could be paralysed by our own sins and fail to help others,' she warned.

Speaking at the British Medical Association's annual public health medicine. conference last week, Ms Flint said the Department of Health was 'reviewing' its alcohol strategy.

'Part of what we want to do is take stock of what has been happening and what more needs to be embedded,' she said.

Ms Flint told the conference that the government was looking at ways to communicate safe drinking messages not just to teenage binge drinkers but also to older 'dinner party bingers'.

'We are also examining whether the licensing laws we have are being used to the greatest effect,' she said.

Ms Flint's comments came as the DoH published figures showing the prevalence of teenage drinking was falling. The statistics revealed that 21 per cent of 11- to 15-year-olds said they had drunk alcohol in the week that they were surveyed, compared with 26 per cent five years ago.