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Start date: 2018-11-12
End date: 2018-12-23
Results: 2019-03-05

[ARCHIVED] Budget Proposal 2019/20: Alcohol Screening and Brief Advice Service

This consultation is closed.


This is one of 14 budget proposals for 2019/20. You can .


The purpose of the Alcohol Screening and Brief Advice Service is to provide people with an opportunity to reduce the harm that excessive drinking causes to their health and wellbeing. This service aims to reduce incidents of liver disease, hepatitis, cirrhosis and reduce premature deaths from these conditions. The service is currently delivered by Healthcare Professionals within GP practices across West Berkshire. The screening is conducted using a simple, free to use test, called the Alcohol User Disorders Identification Test - Consumption (AUDIT-C), which determines a patient's level of risk. The screening takes approximately one minute, and based on the level of an individual's risk, an appropriate course of action is decided upon. This could include providing brief advice, signposting to online support or a referral to specialist services

We've contracted GPs to deliver this service since April 2009. The total annual budget for this is £21,300. Each GP is paid £1.00 per patient screened, £4.00 per alcohol brief advice given and £2.00 per referral to specialist services. In 2017/18, GPs claimed for 28% more AUDIT-Cs than in 2014/15. However, claims for Alcohol brief advice have dropped by 42.9% in the same period.  The number of referrals to specialist services have remained similar to previous years.

Legislation requirements

There is no legislative requirement for us to provide this service, however the government's Alcohol Strategy encourages a change in drinking behaviour and reduce the harm that excessive drinking causes to an individual's health and wellbeing.  Treatment is focused on engaging people in effective management quickly, and enabling recovery.

What are we proposing?

To cease the annual funding to the Alcohol Screening and Brief Advice Service (a saving of £21,300 or 100%) from 1 April 2019.

What do we think the impact will be?

We expect the impact to be minimal. The AUDIT-C and brief advice is also included within the NHS Health Check programme that identifies individuals at risk of cardiovascular disease between the ages of 40 to 74yrs. It is likely therefore, that some individuals who drink excessively will be identified through this programme, and provided with appropriate advice and support.

It is also likely that individuals at harm of excessive drinking, and who come into contact with health professionals, would be provided with appropriate support and advice as part of routine care.

Since 2017, GPs have been able to sign up for an alcohol related risk reduction scheme (NHS, 2017), introduced by the government to address the issue of physical and mental illness associated with increasing alcohol consumption. This requires GPs to identify newly registered patients, aged 16 or over, who drink alcohol excessively.

Individuals who are concerned about their own alcohol intake can access information online from the NHS. This includes information on how individuals can assess their alcohol intake to see whether there drinking has reached dangerous levels.

Please refer to the pdf icon Equality Impact Assessment (EqIA) Stage One [329kb] for more details.

What else have we considered in arriving at our proposal?

As part of the 2019/20 Budget Proposals we're also proposing to reduce the funding to the Adult Substance Misuse Service (Swanswell).

We considered how and when the AUDIT-C tool is used within GPs practices, before arriving at our proposal. Re-tendering the Alcohol Screening and Brief Advice Service would result in a reduction in performance and will not attract the required savings.

Why we want your views

We would like to know how this proposal might impact you and the wider community, and any views you have on how we can minimise the impact of this proposed change.

All feedback will be considered at the Executive Committee on 14 February 2019. Following this, a final decision will be made at the Full Council meeting on 5 March 2019. The recommendations and your anonymised response will be posted on this page.

Please note: Social media discussions will not be monitored/considered as a valid response. 

What you told us

We received nine responses to the consultation. A background to the proposal and outline of the responses can be found in the Consultation Summary Report.

What we did

The responses we received did not indicate that an Equality Impact Assessment Stage Two was needed. The EqIA Stage One has been updated to reflect this.

The Full Council meeting on 5 March 2019 decided to progress this proposal.

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