Swanswell makes a positive impact on the NHS

29 November 2010

Swanswell, a national charity which wants to achieve a society free from problem alcohol and drug use, was shortlisted in the category of Primary Care and Community Based Integration for their innovative hospital liaison service.

They’ve already won the West Midlands regional award for the service. Although they didn’t win the national award, Swanswell were the only third sector organisation to get to the final stage.

The awards celebrate innovation and excellence across health and social care, so it’s particularly remarkable that a service provider outside the NHS was shortlisted. In 2008, local authorities spent over £41 billion on health and social protection. Only 10% of this went to third sector organisations (NCVO, 2009).

The award recognition shows the exceptional way Swanswell has integrated its alcohol treatment service into the local hospital, working alongside and training ward staff to support people with alcohol misuse issues.

Their hospital liaison service is unique because it takes support directly to patients who’ve been admitted to hospital and show signs of alcohol-related harm. By helping them to access treatment the service reduces readmissions and saves money for the NHS.

Of the patients referred to Swanswell, 82% weren’t referred back to the service. With the cost per alcohol-related admission estimated at £1,540 - £2,120 (National Institute for Health and Excellence, 2010), the hospital liaison service saves the public purse up to £574,520 per year.

John, a service user whose life has been transformed with Swanswell’s help, said: ‘I had a really bad drink problem. I used to drink night and day, almost from the moment I woke up. Having Caroline [Swanswell’s hospital liaison worker] come to visit me in hospital was like someone putting my mind to rest by saying I shouldn’t be ashamed to ask for help. That was the start of my road to recovery.

Following treatment with Swanswell, John’s now holding down part-time work in a charity shop, has recently decorated his flat in Coventry and is considering training to become an alcohol worker with Swanswell.

Debbie Bannigan, Swanswell Chief Executive, said: ‘The fact that we’ve won a regional Health and Social Care Award recognises how successfully we’ve integrated our hospital liaison service into the hospital, and the strong working relationship we have with the nursing staff.

'To be the only third sector organisation at the national awards shows just how great our service is. We’re helping more people whilst saving tax payer’s money. A fantastic combination when the purse strings are tighter than ever.’

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