Through the K hole gives his inimitable take on new guidelines for managing alcohol misuse
Britain's burgeoning love affair with alcohol has important implications for the health of individuals and for the functioning of wider society.
A health minister speaking from the bar at Westminster says: ‘The drinking culture in the UK has reached crisis point and in order to prevent a national disaster we need a well co-ordinated, well targeted approach.
'We had numerous consultations with all of the interested parties and we set up a steering group to explore the various options that we had at our disposal. We considered social inclusion policies, the impact of current economic and fiscal models on behaviour, the work of voluntary organisations in the over-arching framework of the Big Society, minimal pricing and national campaigns. But then we thought f*ck that lets just dump it all on GPs'.
A spokesman from NICE says: ‘The latest guidance has been issued following extensive consultation with our development groups, we listened, pretended to write down what they said and then chose to ignore it because let's be honest their only qualification is to know exactly what they're talking about.
'So we've now set up an evil sister organisation in Venezuela called NOT-SO-NICE and it's this group which suggested that GP's spend forty five minutes with patients discussing their alcohol problems. There are an estimated one million patients with alcohol misuse problems in the UK which means that GPs will have to devote 85.6 years of consulting time to talking about booze each and every year. You can check that on a calculator, it's true.'
A specialist says: ‘Don't panic, it sounds worse than it is because by 2055 we're all going to be dead of alcohol related liver disease anyway'
Reaction was sought from a local alcoholic: ‘Apart from wheeling around a shopping trolley full of empty Tesco's bags and shouting at traffic I enjoy nothing more than curling up in the evening with some Schopenhauer and a little tipple. And by tipple I mean three litres of cut price cider and a bottle of last year's cooking sherry.
'My GP once asked me how much I drank, it's difficult to be precise, I would say it's probably about enough to kill a family sized Labrador. I agree with NICE though, I think all responsibility for my behaviour should be placed on the broad shoulders of healthcare professionals and of course decades of emotional pain, poor prospects, unemployment and enough stomach acid to melt a wrist watch will be reversed by three quarters of an hour with my family doctor'.
He ended the interview by saying: ‘Why does that spider have a human head? And why is it mouthing Erasure lyrics at me?'
Speaking from Glasgow at the International Conference of Alcohol Research a leading scientist says: ‘We now know so much more about how ethanol interacts with the important neural pathways in the brain that regulate emotion and memory. In a recent randomised controlled trial we found, beyond any statistical doubt, that eating vodka jellies makes you want to take your clothes off and push breadsticks up your nose whilst hinting that you would like to have sex with your neighbour's wife'
A GPs response to the recently published NICE guidelines was: ‘Forty five minutes!......how long?....... holy cow are you sh*tting me?....forty five minutes! Please tell me you're having a f*cking laugh!'
As the UK floats in an enormous glass of buy one get one free chardonnay it won't be too long before it wakes up with an embarrassing headache and a very sour taste in its mouth.
Dr Kevin Hinkley is a GP in Aberdeen. Written in response to: GPs told to give 45-minute alcohol interventionsClick here for more from Through the K hole Through the K hole