New figures released last week reveal that more than 35,000 people are admitted to hospital in Scotland every year as a result of alcohol. Glasgow and Clyde’s hospitals alone treated 11,760 emergency hospital stays last year for alcohol-related problems.

The Glasgow Modified Alcohol Withdrawal Score project was created to effectively and safely manage patients going through alcohol withdrawal syndrome across Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

The project has influenced the management of tens of thousands of patients across NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde. The benefits include:

  • A reduction of 21 per cent in average hospital stays in medical wards over a 12 month period
  • A reduction in the number of alcohol-related violent incidents. These fell by 59 per cent in the Glasgow Royal Infirmary in one year and by 82 per cent after two years.

Ewan Forrest, consultant hepatologist, said: “The Score has enabled early identification of patients at risk of Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome as many patients at risk of this may present to hospital for reasons other than alcohol-related illness.

“This fundamental change to our treatment transformed patient management with reductions in hospital stay and greater patient safety. It is a direct result of staff identifying a clinical need, developing a robust system and then demonstrating its clinical merit to colleagues across the Board”.

“This is being picked up by other health boards across the UK and is also recognised internationally as clinically useful tool in treating Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome”.

“Ultimately, the Score represents effective clinically-based and patient-focussed work and highlights the principles of NHSGGC staff working to improve the health of our wider community.”

Although patients with severe Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome can still become agitated, the Score provides a framework for the immediate management of these patients to de-escalate the situation effectively.

Before the introduction of Score, hospital wards within the same hospitals often managed Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome in a variety of different ways.

Barbara McMenemy, NHSGGC acute addiction manager, said: “This has been an extensive body of work within NHSGGC. The group has functioned as a truly multi-disciplinary team drawing upon the skills and experience of medical, nursing and pharmacy staff.

“It was felt that we needed to have a consistent approach to the management of alcohol withdrawal syndrome to provide the best treatment for patients and reduce the risk of adverse events.”

“The result was the Glasgow Modified Alcohol Withdrawal Score which is based around a simple five symptom-triggered scoring system which then guides treatment. It is accompanied by detailed advice regarding its application and, importantly, the protection of vulnerable patients.”