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GPs are failing to identify, treat and refer patients with alcohol use disorders, a Government report reveals.

The Department of Health audit found 'extremely low' rates of diagnosis. GPs identified only one in every 67 male and one in 82 female hazardous/harmful drinkers.

The analysis the UK general practice research database concluded that GPs found it particularly difficult to identify younger patients.

The RCGP called for 'massive input' in training and points for identification and treatment in the revised QOF.

Dr Clare Gerada, director of the RCGP's substance misuse unit and a GP in Lambeth, south London, admitted GPs needed to be given help through better training and incentives.

'The more middle class a patient is, the worse we are.

'We miss all the cues ­ patients presenting with gastritis and depression ­ and we don't ask about it when we measure blood pressure,' she said.

Dr Gerada added: 'It needs a complete rethink, [with] massive input of training, starting at medical school. It should be in the QOF as one of the criteria for hypertension, stroke and diabetes.'

The audit was published as public health minister Caroline Flint unveiled a plan to improve services for patients with alcohol problems.

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