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Alcohol team to expand with outreach programme

22 Dec 2021 17:16:33
Amanda Marklew ALS

The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust’s Alcohol Liaison Team has been awarded funding from NHS England to develop an outreach team for those people who need it most across Rotherham. The jobs, which include four outreach support worker roles, are hoped to be filled in the New Year. 

The new Community Outreach And Support Team (COAST) will be led by the Trust’s Lead Alcohol Transformation Nurse, Amanda Marklew, and the new programme will be aimed at those in the community who need some extra support. 

Amanda is working across Rotherham and Barnsley NHS Trusts to tackle alcohol problems in the region. She was approached to head up the Barnsley service due to the success of the Rotherham model. 

Amanda said: “I was asked to develop Barnsley’s acute services based on Rotherham’s outcomes because we’ve got a nationally recognised service.

“We had an external evaluation in 2015 and we were recognised as a potential model of best practice. One of the things that sets us apart is that we are one of the only services that delivers telephone contact. As a standard we offer every patient that we see a telephone call because they’ve just disclosed all this really sensitive information and shared their life story, so they are more vulnerable and need more support.” 

The Trust was one of four sites in England chosen to develop an outreach service for patients with alcohol and mental health problems. 

Amanda said: “It’ll make so much difference to people’s lives, it is just so amazing. Alcohol addiction affects families and communities. Part of my mission is to change people’s attitudes and erase people’s beliefs and stigmas because it stops people accessing treatment a lot of the time. 

“People who have really complex problems don’t get enough support so they are going to A&E all the time,” said Amanda. “And then they are sent home and are back to where they came from.” 

The service has seen a rise in the number of referrals for alcohol over the past year. 

“We were getting 135 referrals a months but it’s gone up to 250 during Covid,” said Amanda. “There are a few reasons for that, one is because of Covid. We’ve seen a lot of new presentations, people that we’ve never seen before and who are struggling, as well as the patients that are known to us or patients that are what’s known as your hidden group of people. They are ticking along safely in the community and have probably got neighbours watching over them, but then once Covid hit nobody was seeing them so nobody could monitor their health or get their drink for them, food and basic items. Often they were housebound as well, which brought other problems, and of those who did come into hospital, many of them died because they were so physically unwell.” 

The team is looking forward to embarking on the new outreach programme. 

“It’s really exciting that we’re going to have that service for people with alcohol and mental health issues,” said Amanda, “because it’s a new initiative nationally and hopefully it will have an impact.”