The findings from a research paper discussed in our May Clinical Update suggest that patients managed with an elective approach to alcohol detoxification, following work-up with a dedicated alcohol team and post-detox follow-up, are less likely to be readmitted to hospital with alcohol intoxication or withdrawal than patients receiving admission for an unplanned detox.

However, with the ongoing closure of specialist NHS and third sector detox units across the UK, more alcohol detoxes are taking place in acute medical settings.

Some of the concerns about losing dedicated inpatient detox units include:

  • Not all acute medical settings are equipped to safely manage alcohol detoxification, with many staff lacking the specialist skills necessary to care for these patients.
  • Unplanned detoxification is ineffective at maintaining long-term abstinence from alcohol. Given the readmission rates to hospital post-detox it is also not cost-effective.
  • The lack of follow-up appointments can have detrimental effect upon patient outcomes

In addition to these points, we join in the concerns about the loss of psychiatric expertise within the NHS as a result of loss of specialist NHS inpatient units.

Read the Clinical Update summary of the paper, plus expert commentary.