The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has launched a consultation on UK-wide guidelines for the clinical treatment of harmful drinking and alcohol dependence.

Developed in partnership with the devolved administrations, the guidelines include advice for primary care and community health services.

The guidance emphasises the ‘crucial role’ these services can play in preventing and reducing harm experienced by people with alcohol use disorders, as well as contributing to patients’ treatment and recovery.

The guidelines also call for ‘strong and strategic leadership and senior level commitment’ to support primary care and community health services to carry out their role in preventing and managing alcohol-related harm in patients.

The guidance recommends that specialist alcohol treatment and wider health and social care services work together to provide integrated care for people experiencing alcohol dependence.

According to the DHSC, the main aim of the guidelines is to develop a ‘clearer consensus’ on good practice and how to implement NICE-recommended interventions.

The consultation will be open for eight weeks, inviting views from people working in alcohol treatment, the wider health and care sector and those with lived experience of alcohol dependence across the UK.

Neil O’Brien, minister for public health, said: ’This consultation will help us develop guidance to ensure alcohol treatment services are of consistently high quality, providing stronger pathways to recovery for those in need of treatment for alcohol dependence.’

Earlier this year, the government awarded local authorities £421m to help tackle drug and alcohol abuse.

In May, ministers were accused of not taking alcohol harm seriously enough after a new report showed a sharp rise in alcohol-related deaths.

And a recent small-scale study found that treating alcohol as a drug that interacts with medicines and conditions, rather than a lifestyle question on structured medicine reviews (SMRs) gives patients a new perception of their alcohol use.

This article first appeared on our sister publication, Nursing in Practice.