Fiona Dalton, CEO

Chief executive's blog - 18 November 2015

In my personal blog, I'll keep you up to date on what's happening at the Trust, sharing what I think we're doing well and what we can improve.

Fiona Dalton, chief executive

Amazingly (at least to me) I've now been writing this blog for two years - as I started working here as CEO in early November 2013. Writing my blog is a part of my job that I’ve always enjoyed, because it forces me to spend time reflecting on the past two or three weeks, and it gives me the opportunity to speak directly and in a personal way to everyone at UHS, and anyone else who is interested in our challenges and achievements.

But this week’s blog has been difficult to write. I want to talk about alcohol, and its impact on society and our hospital – but drinking is such a fundamental part of our society that it’s hard to talk about it without coming across as morally superior or a complete kill-joy. So to be absolutely clear - I drink alcohol, and sometimes drink more than I should. And I think we all need to be more honest about the level of alcohol consumption in the UK today, the extent to which it underpins how society functions, and the impact of this on our health.

Drinking permeates our language – when things are going well someone will suggest “breaking out the champagne” but if they’re not so good there will be talk of “drowning our sorrows”. We “wet the baby’s head” or aspire to a "champagne lifestyle".

And the health impact of alcohol in the UK today is very scary. It's estimated that 20% of us are damaging our health through drinking too much, more than 6,000 people die every year from alcohol related deaths, and over a million people are admitted to hospital. All of this costs about £21 billion a year.

Within UHS, we see the consequences of drinking in almost every department. Whether it’s violence in the emergency department or exacerbations of safeguarding issues in paediatrics; levels of trauma and road traffic accidents or obstetric complications; an increased incidence of cancer or the chronic long term liver disease that we see in hepatology – excessive drinking has an impact across our services.

We who work in healthcare are of course part of society, and we know that there is often a culture in hospitals of recovering from a difficult shift by going home and having a drink. We need to be honest about this if we're going to be serious about supporting our staff, and truly believing in health promotion, both for our staff and our patients.

It’s not always going to be a comfortable conversation, but we need to talk about alcohol.


Fiona Dalton


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Page comments

I think like most drugs alcohol is an attempt to compensate for stress.
Sam Goold (23/11/2015 16:57:45)
Fantastic blog, thank you for the honesty. Alcohol Awareness week is a good time to be considering this topic.
Cathy Rule (19/11/2015 09:29:46)