UK-first detox scheme battles alcohol addiction across Greater Manchester, tackling A&E repeat stays

By Danielle Wainwright

The battle against alcoholism across Greater Manchester has seen a dramatic improvement thanks to a UK-first scheme – which is enjoying a near-perfect successful detox rate.

More than 130 people suffering from alcohol addiction from Greater Manchester have been discharged from the programme since opening in November, and the scheme boasts a 97% success rate.

The service aims to tackle the issue of repeat stays of alcoholics in A&E wards, based at Greater Manchester West Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust in Prestwich, housing the Chapman-Barker Unit.

The process is the first of its kind in the country as it accommodates the needs of multiple A&E departments.

The patient stays in the Rapid Alcohol Detox Acute Hospital Referral Ward (RADAR) for five to seven days and undergoes a full detox from alcohol.

This will help the patient be in the best position possible to start their recovery journey, engage with community services and break the cycle of frequently attending hospital due to their addiction.

A former patient of RADAR has expressed gratitude for the help they received at the ward and said: “Only a couple of months ago I was on the verge of suicide. With no hope in my heart or faith in anyone or anything in life, I had even given up feeling sorry for myself and believe me – I have been notoriously good at self-pity.

“Now I am feeling full of hope. The team worked tirelessly for me. I am still abstinent from alcohol since entering the ward and I will be forever grateful for that opportunity and the amazing staff – I even got some inspiration from fellow patients.”

If A&E staff regularly see the same people with alcohol-related illness and the individual wants to change and improve their health, Alcohol Nurse Specialists at hospitals can refer the patient directly to the new ward.

Joanna Hough, alcohol nurse team manager at Wigan’s A&E, said: “The team make the process very easy and fluid. We have quite a distance geographically between our site and Prestwich but the gap is bridged as we have a good rapport with the team and we know we can contact them at any time.

“The RADAR ward has been a lifeline for some families, their loved one may arrive in crisis with the family at their wits’ end and RADAR is there; ready to help the individual towards a real chance of recovery from alcohol misuse.

“The process lifts the barriers of appointments and enables the person to experience a recovery culture and environment. The service itself is really positive in terms of helping people to get recovery and improving engagement with community services after detox.”

As soon as a person enters the unit, their recovery plan is started and tailored to meet their needs. Patients have arrived with wide-ranging issues which culminate in acute injuries, sometimes relating to domestic violence.

Sue Chesters, matron at the Chapman-Barker Unit, said: “People arrive here trapped in a cycle and if they are willing to get out of it, we have the resources and support to help them.”

The pilot scheme began by taking referrals from Salford and Wigan A&E wards but has now proved so successful that it has opened its doors across the North West to 11 acute hospitals.

Figures reveal that 75% of people who are discharged from RADAR are not admitted to hospital services in the following three months.

For more information on the RADAR ward, please visit

Picture courtesy of DeathByBokah, with thanks.

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