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New alcohol misuse services for 'worst' areas

By Emma Wilkinson

The government is investing £3m in alcohol misuse services in the 20 "worst" areas of the country in an effort to tackle the chronic shortage of such services identified recently by GPs.

Announcing the plans, Public Health Minister, Dawn Primarolo, said the money would be used for collating figures to help commissioners and increasing access to specialist treatment.

The 20 chosen areas, which include Bolton, Middlesborough, Birmingham and Nottingham are amongst the most deprived in the country.

A further £3m will be spent on regional alcohol managers, a National Support Team and an Alcohol Learning Centre.

It comes just a week after GPs warned of a nationwide shortage of specialist services for alcohol misuse, with three quarters reporting a significant problem.

After being singled out by the National Audit Office for failing to take on the responsibility of detecting and tackling alcohol problems in the early stages, GPs countered that there were too few services to refer people to.

Ms Primarolo said: 'Starting with the most deprived areas in inequality hotspots, we are going to roll out a new programme which will identify and help drinkers who are at risk.

'For every pound spent on alcohol intervention, five pounds are saved by the public purse - so this is money well spent.'

Dr Clare Gerada, vice-chair of the RCGP and a GP in Kennington, south London, said the additional funding was a start.

'But to be honest there are alcohol problems everywhere so I'm not sure how they're going to pick out the worst areas.'

Government to invest £3m in new alcohol misuse services

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