An alcohol treatment programme in Derby is helping to reduce admissions related to drink, which could prove highly useful across the NHS after the annual number of alcohol related admissions passed 1 million for the first time last May.

NHS Derby City’s landmark alcohol treatment programme – the first to address the city’s high number of alcohol-related hospital admissions by offering a gateway to help and support through hospital, GP and community settings – has reached 1,226 individuals at risk of developing serious drinking problems.

In addition 418 hardened drinkers, or those who could harm themselves or others through their habit, have been helped through the city’s alcohol advice helpline.

The figures, released by NHS Derby City and Addiction Dependency Solutions, are the first to show the impact the scheme is having on helping those with alcohol problems. Prior to the launch of the scheme in June 2010 an estimated 150 people were receiving treatment for alcohol problems through the city’s mental health service.

According to the Department of Health there are around 6,000 people with serious alcohol problems in the city and 30,000 people are estimated to be drinking above government recommended levels.

Trish Thompson, director of community and primary care commissioning for NHS Derby City, said: “We’re delighted that Derby’s alcohol treatment service has reached thousands of people in its first year. Addressing alcohol problems before they cause lasting health damage is critical, so the significance of this service is immeasurable.

“This is a great example of how key organisations promoting the health and well-being of people living in Derby can work together to achieve important results for the health of local people.”

The all-encompassing scheme was recently acclaimed by the Department of Health’s national support team for its scope and innovation – as people with alcohol problems can now get help and support in hospital, clinics and community settings, whether they binge drink, have complex alcohol needs due to mental health problems or other psychological problems, or end up in A&E.

“People drink too much for a variety of reasons, so it’s vital that the system picks them up wherever they are,” Ms Thompson added.

The confidential helpline, which has reduced waiting times for alcohol treatment from two years to three weeks, is run by NHS Derby City in partnership with Derby Community Safety Partnership. From June 2010 to 31 March 2011, around 87 per cent of callers received structured support within 21 days.

Clinics supporting problem drinkers run from GP practices across Derby and the Family Justice Centre for vulnerable female clients.