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27 October 2010, 12:18 | Updated: 27 October 2010, 12:24
A nurse has started working in schools in Portsmouth to try and cut the number of pupils drinking underage.
A recent survey found 1 in 5 secondary school children in the City had been drunk at least once in the past month, which is higher than the national average.
Portsmouth also has the highest rate of alcohol related hospital admissions in the South East, approximately 4,200 people per year. In addition as many as 14,000 Emergency Department (ED) attendances at QA per year are alcohol related and it is estimated that alcohol misuse costs the NHS over £10million per year in Portsmouth alone.
The nurse will work with children who've either been caught with alcohol or ended up in hospital because of it. They’ll receive referrals from schools, ED (Emergency Department) and the police.
Suzanne Moore, the new Alcohol Advisory School Nurse, said:
“I am really looking forward to providing young people and their families with alcohol advice and support. I have been a school nurse for 12 years and have considerable experience of working with young people in schools and their families. I am looking forward to working with the Emergency Department and the local police to identify young people that need support.”
Paul Edmondson-Jones, Director of Public Health and Wellbeing for Portsmouth City said:
“NHS Portsmouth are pleased to be funding this new post. Not only is it important to work with adults who have alcohol problems already, but it is important we work with young people to prevent them becoming problem drinkers of the future.
Most young people don't drink regularly. It is not normal for young people to get drunk, but for those few that do the school nurse will be available to offer them guidance and support.”
Jenny Gilmour, Service Manager Children and Families, Solent Healthcare NHS Trust said:
“Alcohol is an issue that often comes up when young people and their families see school nurses. It is fantastic to have a dedicated resource to advise young people and their families when there is an issue with alcohol. The Alcohol Advisory School Nurse will also support her/his colleagues working in the community and in the Emergency Department so they are able to manage alcohol issues more appropriately.”
The Government's Chief Medical Officer issued the following guidance in relation to underage drinking:
1. An alcohol free childhood is the healthiest and best option - if children drink alcohol, it shouldn't be before they reach 15 years old.
2. For those aged 15 - 17 years old, all alcohol consumption should always be with the guidance of a parent or carer or in a supervised environment.
3. Parents and young people should be aware that drinking, even at the age of 15 or older, can be hazardous to their health and not drinking is the healthiest option for young people. If children aged 15 - 17 consume alcohol, they should do so infrequently and certainly on no more than one day a week.