Dean Royles Dry January blog

Dean Royles

23 / 12 / 2013 2.38pm

I try and tackle some topical issues in this blog – Domestic Violence, Pay Awards, Whistleblowing and, generally speaking, people seem to appreciate my candour. They may not agree but they like the fact that I have had a go at trying to engage people in the debate. But, that doesn’t apply to alcohol.

I was chatting to some NHS colleagues recently and I mentioned Dry January and our campaign to support and encourage NHS staff to join in. The evidence is quite compelling. An estimated 34% Men / 28% Women (2011) regularly drink more than their recommended units.

The NHS’s 1.3 million employees are pretty representative. We know those that take a period of time off generally sleep better, improve their stress levels, feel healthier and can even lose weight.

I told my colleagues I thought an NHS campaign was a good idea. It would support the health and wellbeing of staff, alcohol is a big public health issue and it would be good for the NHS to show support. We know what sensible units are, but do we personally stick to them:

  • 21 units for men – the equivalent of 7 large (250 ml) glasses of wine, or 7 pints of strong lager per week
  • 14 units for women – the equivalent of 7 standard (175 ml) glasses of wine, or 9 bottles of alcopops per week.

I suggested that it was a bit like the NHS supporting “Stop Smoking” campaigns – Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! I was told “There is no such thing as passive drinking”. I was reliably informed “Dry January is just an opportunity to stop people enjoying themselves”. And I could go on – my ears are still ringing! Seems we are not handling the public health message well within the NHS. There may be no passive drinking but we know that alcohol:

So this year we are working with Alcohol Concern, the leading national charity working on alcohol issues and Public Health England. We hope the campaign will help to improve people’s lives through reducing the harm caused by alcohol. We are happy to support an ambitious long-term aim to help encourage a change in drinking culture.

The campaign aims to help people to start new conversations about alcohol. Support is being provided to trusts through materials supplied by Alcohol Concern. I and thousands of others will also join in. Please encourage your organisation to take part, to promote an Alcohol Free January to your staff as part of your health and wellbeing programmes – let’s get 2014 off to a healthy start and demonstrate we can help set the agenda on this important issue for the NHS and our society.

Keep checking back throughout January to see how I'm getting on...

Thank you,


*** Office for National Statistics: Focus on: Violent Crime and Sexual Offences, 2011/12
** Statistics on alcohol: England 2013
* Department of Health - Public Health Responsibility Deal report

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