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Liverpool’s hospitals ‘no place for alcohol’ says new campaign

Taking alcohol into hospitals could be dangerous and is placing an unnecessary burden on already hard-pressed NHS staff.

These are the key messages behind an awareness-raising campaign which aims to discourage patients and well-meaning visitors from bringing booze to the bedside in the city’s hospital wards.

Spearheaded by Liverpool City Council’s Public Protection Team, the Hospital Watch campaign is about to be rolled out at Aintree Hospital.

The campaign stresses the possible dangers to patients of taking alcohol on top of any medication they may be on while in hospital. It also highlights the potential for anti-social behaviour that drinking on the wards could bring.

Dr Tristan Cope, Medical Director at Aintree University Hospital, said: “We understand that patients can be with us for a long time and it can be an unsettling experience, however, it’s really important that people don’t supply our patients with alcohol. When mixed with medication, alcohol can be extremely dangerous and can also make people more susceptible to antisocial behaviour, which is something our staff should never have to deal with. “While alcohol misuse isn’t a big issue for us, we don’t want any of our patients to come to harm, so I welcome the support of the city council and our surrounding retailers.”

As part of the campaign, Public Protection officers have enlisted the support of the local licensed trade around Liverpool’s hospitals.

In the run-up to the launch, council officers took part in a number of test-purchases at off licences close to hospitals around the city. The team members posed as patients and attempted to buy alcohol.

The undercover officers were served with alcohol at 13 of the 16 premises they visited, with no questions asked.

Since then, the Public Protection team has made contact with the off licences and offered training to staff to help them to refuse to serve anyone who is a hospital patient.

A subsequent test purchase operation resulted in officers being refused alcohol at all 16 off licences.

Banner Headlines: Public Protection Officer Claire Jones with the campaign material.

Hospital Watch posters and pull-up banners are placed in high-profile locations throughout the hospitals, whilst campaign packs, including leaflets for visitors and patients, are being distributed to individual wards and local off licences.

Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care, Cllr Paul Brant said: “Whilst the issue of people bringing alcohol into hospital is a relatively small one, it impacts on the services and the ability of the staff to do their jobs properly.

“If doctors, nurses and other health care staff are forced to deal with a patient who is suffering because of the adverse effects of alcohol, it takes them away from caring for people who are sick and in need of their help.

“Whilst we appreciate that friends and family members may be trying to make a patient’s stay in hospital more enjoyable, alcohol isn’t the answer. We would urge all members of the public to take heed of the Hospital Watch message and keep alcohol out of our hospitals.”

The campaign will eventually be rolled out to all of Liverpool’s hospitals.