New A&E project supports young people around alcohol and drugs

An innovative new project to reduce and support the number of young people repeatedly turning up at A&E with alcohol, drugs or violence related illness or injury has launched at Musgrove Park Hospital.

The Somerset Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) is funding Turning Point (who run Somerset Drug and Alcohol Services) to deliver ‘Admit’ – a new pilot running from now until March 2021.

Young people who attend A&E with alcohol, drug or violence related injury are given help and support to reduce their risk of experiencing harm.  This help is delivered by two dedicated Young People Recovery workers located in A&E from 6pm to midnight every Friday and Saturday night.

Admit was launched after a recent study highlighted Somerset’s rate of admissions to hospital for alcohol related conditions is higher than the national average at 711 per 100,000 (664 per 100,000 nationally). The County also has a higher rate of admissions for alcohol specific conditions in those under 18 years.

In addition, latest police figures also show the percentage of serious violent crime in Somerset involving alcohol has been steadily increasing since 2016.

Cabinet Member for Public Health & Well-Being and Climate Change: Cllr Clare Paul, said, “Alcohol misuse is a risk factor for young people in regard to violence and exploitation. Through a recent Needs Assessment, it was found that more than a third of alcohol-related incidents take place in the home and that drink is a factor in ‘hidden’ crimes such as domestic violence, sexual abuse and rape.

“In response to the high rate of admissions to hospital for alcohol related conditions in the county, we’re delighted to fund Turning Point Services to deliver Admit from Musgrove Park Hospital with the aim of providing treatment and support to young people to help them change their behavior.

Admit will:

  • Deliver Harm Reduction initiatives on youth violence and substance misuse
  • Support young people to access treatment for alcohol and substance misuse
  • Support young people to understand the impact of A&E attendance on the NHS
  • Raise the profile of the community services among A&E staff
  • Offer carers support to the parents of the young person
  • Link young people into Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services where appropriate

The Young People Workers work closely with A&E staff to identify young patients who could be supported through Admit and harm reduction advice is given to young people and where appropriate their families too, both at hospital and after discharge.

Dawn Holmes, Manager – Young Person & Family service for Somerset Drug & Alcohol Service, said, “The Admit project was a proposal put together by Turning Point. We are passionate about supporting vulnerable young people across Somerset and felt that this would meet with the targets set out by the VRU and enable us to engage with these young people at the point of crisis rather than after the event, which is so often the case.

“The staff in A&E do an amazing job but they don’t have the capacity to provide an intervention as their focus quite rightly is on the person’s physical wellbeing. Our Youth workers have been able to build good partnership working skills with them during our shifts, and have engaged, supported and sign posted to other appropriate partnership agencies.”

Adam Fouracre, Somerset NHS Foundation Trust’s advanced clinical practitioner – emergency medicine, said, “We are very pleased to be involved in this project, which will give young people who present to our emergency department (A&E) with alcohol, drug of violence related injuries the extra help they need to get themselves out of the cycle of needing emergency care.

“We know that alcohol is a well-known and significant contributor to youth violence and many people who sustain injuries as a result of violence tend to be heavily intoxicated or use drugs often present to our A&E.

“Our colleagues in A&E have seen first-hand how the specialist youth workers have made successful interventions with these young people, some of who have gone on to get the help and support they need to greatly improve their lifestyle

For more information on accessing free and confidential support for alcohol or other drugs from Somerset Drug & Alcohol Service, please visit www.turning-point.co.uk/sdas