About: East Surrey Hospital / General medicine

(as a relative),

My brother-in-law was referred to East Surrey Hospital after many years of alcohol abuse. He was suicidal and in a very poor physical state. He had been drinking one bottle of vodka a day and was in a lot of pain physically and mentally.

He had suffered extreme DT's in the past when he attempted to stop drinking. His Doctor was delighted when the hospital agreed to take him. He was assessed initially when he arrived at the hospital and they recommended a vitamin drip and other drugs to stabilise him. After this initial assessment he was made to wait for many hours when he was then informed that he would be sent home with the advice (in writing) that he should carry on drinking as it would be unsafe to stop.

We informed his Doctor who then got in touch with the consultant. The consultant said that the NHS does not fund detox. He was duly sent home with no vitamins (many alcoholics are vit b deficient which leads to brain disorders) and the only advice given by the now despairing Doctor was to attend and addiction clinic some 10 miles way.

My brother-in law then got drunk and drove to the local supermarket to buy more drink and got caught for drink driving ( with a reading of 148). He now faces job loss and no way out.

How sad that this country is only too glad to take the taxes from alcohol sales but has no interest in treating the repercussions from it. Alcohol is the most harmful drug we have it's about time we as a nation wised up to this and stop treating all as a joke.

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Response from Eloise Clarke, Communications Manager, Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust

Dear 'Horsham'

I am very sorry that you feel that we let your brother-in-law down but our hospital is not commissioned to provide inpatient alcohol detoxification services for those who do not have another medical need for admission. The commissioners of healthcare, which are groups that are largely led by GPs, state that GPs should refer people requiring this treatment to their local community provider.

Alcohol detoxification services are commissioned by West Sussex Drug and Alcohol Action Team (DAAT) from Addaction in your local area. Your GP will be able to refer your brother-in-law directly to those services. The Consultant who saw your brother in law when he was wrongly referred to the hospital, tried to arrange this for him by telephoning the GP and arranging an urgent appointment with them the following day.

The Addaction service is comprehensive and includes medical and psychological support in partnership with the GP. This would include treatment with vitamins if required. The service offers much more for patients and their families than can be provided by an acute hospital. www.addaction.org.uk

If you are dissatisfied with the current services available we would encourage you to approach the West Sussex Drug and Alcohol Action Team (DAAT) or discuss the matter with your GP.

Further information can be accessed via the West Sussex PCT website. http://www.westsussex.nhs.uk/services-alcohol

If you would like to discuss this further, please get in touch with me. I hope this helps, many thanks, Eloise

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