Alcohol-fuelled admissions to Kaitaia Hospital have prompted health officials to implement a new system asking patients at the emergency department, if they have consumed alcohol prior to the injury.
If they have, hospital staff will then ask the injured patient if they would like support from the Alcohol Drug Helpline. Alcohol-fuelled assault, falls and vehicle crashes place additional strain on an already stretched Kaitaia Hospital Emergency Department, the Northland District Health Board (NDHB) says.
A DHB spokeswoman said there had not been any alcohol-fuelled incidents involving staff at the ED that led to the initiative. It was about being proactive over an important issue, rather than about staff getting hurt.
NDHB, the Alcohol Drug Helpline and ALAC are working together to reduce alcohol-related harm and to offer people support and the new system came into effect last week, associate clinical nurse manager Rachel Thompson said.
Patients referred to the Helpline will be offered a range of support options and strategies, around their alcohol use, including harm minimisation and avoiding relapses. Those requiring more intensive treatment will be referred to Northland Mental Health and Addiction services.
"We have an ALAC information pack on hand and a referral form, which we can fax to the Alcohol Drug Helpline there and then, if the patient consents," Ms Thompson said.
The emergency department project replicates similar interagency work with New Zealand Police in Northland.
Northland District Road Policing Manager Murray Hodgson said the agencies involved began working together in May 2011, in the hope that a collaborative approach could reduce the area's high number of drink-driving incidents and offer support to those who appeared to have alcohol abuse issues.
He said that in the first year, 31 per cent of those arrested by the Traffic Alcohol Group had been referred on, and between January and June this year the overall number of Northland referrals had increased by 92 per cent compared with the previous year.
The Helpline - 0800 787797 - is a free service available from 10am - 10pm, seven days a week and offers confidential information, insight and support.