Drink af­fect­ing health of many

South Waikato News - - NEWS/HEALTH -

Ev­ery day some New Zealand GPs see pa­tients whose health has been af­fected by al­co­hol abuse, a sur­vey shows.

The Royal New Zealand Col­lege of Gen­eral Prac­ti­tion­ers sur­vey found 42 per cent of re­spon­dents daily saw pa­tients with health prob­lems caused or in­creased by heavy drink­ing.

An­other 40 per cent dealt with such pa­tients weekly, while 14 per cent saw them monthly.

Na­tional Ad­dic­tion Cen­tre di­rec­tor Pro­fes­sor Doug Sell­man said the sur­vey re­sults were ‘‘ star­tling’’, but

The Royal New Zealand Col­lege of Gen­eral Prac­ti­tion­ers sur­vey found 42 per cent of re­spon­dents daily saw pa­tients with health prob­lems caused or in­creased by heavy drink­ing.

the low re­sponse rate of 53 col­lege mem­bers drew its va­lid­ity into ques­tion.

Col­lege com­mu­ni­ca­tions ad­viser Alexan­der Bis­ley said that al­though the sam­ple was small, he was ‘‘rea­son­ably con­fi­dent’’ the re­sults re­flected wider work­force con­cerns.

Sell­man said there were 60 health is­sues that could be af­fected by al­co­hol abuse but doc­tors did not al­ways make the link un­less they asked their pa­tients.

‘‘We don’t tend to say that to our doc­tors, so it needs doc­tors to ask the ques­tions in a non­judg­men­tal way.’’

Pe­ga­sus Health chair­man Martin Seers said ad­ver­tis­ing cam­paigns en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple to talk about al­co­hol use would lead to more peo­ple seek­ing pro­fes­sional help.

Al­co­hol-abuse sup­port ser­vices such as Al­co­holics Anony­mous and the Sal­va­tion Army’s Bridge pro­gramme would be ‘‘ swamped’’, and they al­ways needed more fund­ing.

Seers said that while doc­tors were now spend­ing less time with pa­tients, ‘‘ brief in­ter­ven­tional coun­selling’’ could some­times be more ef­fec­tive than a spe­cialised al­co­hol coun­selling ser­vice.

The Press

TOO MUCH: 40 per cent of GPs are deal­ing ev­ery day with pa­tients who drink too much.

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