A GROUNDBREAKING project which helped to cut alcohol-related violence in Glasgow hospitals and reduced the length of hospital admissions for patients suffering alcohol withdrawal syndrome is being rolled out globally.

The scheme, which was first pioneered in the city seven years ago, is now being adopted in medical centres as far afield as the United States, Singapore and Australia.

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It comes as the Scottish Government unveiled plans for a TV watershed for alcohol adverts and cigarette-style health warning labels on alcohol packaging amid the latest figures showing that more than 23,000 Scots were hospitalised for their drinking last year.

The Glasgow Modified Alcohol Withdrawal Score project was piloted in 2011/12 to safely manage patients with alcohol withdrawal syndrome across Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

People who have consumed alcohol heavily over a prolonged period, especially several years, are at risk of a range of symptoms - some of them severe - when they stop drinking.

In the most serious cases, around 5% of patients will experience vivid hallucinations and delusions, but milder symptoms of withdrawal also include fever, high blood pressure, sweating, confusion, vomiting, insomnia, anxiety, shakiness and a racing heartbeat.

As a result, patients are at increased risk of aggressive outbursts during withdrawal.

The scoring system is based on identifying and rating patients' risk according to five symptoms and then tailoring their treatment according to their score.

The initiative also pooled expertise from medical, nursing and pharmacy staff and enabled clinicians to spot patients in danger of withdrawal even if they had presented at hospital for an unrelated injury or illness.

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In its first year, the number of alcohol-related violent incidents in Glasgow Royal Infirmary fell by 59%. By 2012/13, the hospital had reduced these episodes by 82% compared to 2010/11, the year before the scheme was implemented.

It also cut the duration of patients' average stay in hospital by 21% from five and a half to four and a half days, freeing up acute hospital beds earlier at a time when wards are busier than ever.

Ewan Forrest, a consultant liver specialist, 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. This is being picked up by other health boards across the UK and is also recognised internationally."

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It comes at the latest figures for 2017/18 revealed that there were more than 97 alcohol-related hospital admissions a day in Scotland, involving 23,494 individuals.

The number of alcohol-related admissions has fallen by a fifth over the past decade, but the statistics also showed that the admissions rate was seven times higher among patients from the most deprived areas compared to those from the most affluent postcodes.

Yesterday, Scotland's Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick unveiled a new 20-point plan to tackle harmful drinking, including a call to ban of alcohol advertising before the 9pm watershed.

Laws on marketing are reserved to Westminster, however, so the Scottish Government will push UK ministers to include alcohol in its forthcoming ban on pre-watershed advertising of junk food.

If not, calls for those powers to be devolved to Holyrood will be made so action can be taken north of the border.

Earlier this week, experts called for a ban on alcohol advertising during winter after research found a link between colder, dark climates and excess drinking.

Businesses are also being asked to place health information on their products. Mr FitzPatrick said he will also look at what legislation can be introduced if manufacturers do not voluntarily comply by September 2019.

Speaking at the European Alcohol Policy Conference in Edinburgh, Mr Fitzpatrick said: "We've got 14% higher consumption of alcohol than the rest of the UK - and the UK is about the worst in western Europe, so we have our issues that we need to resolve.

"I don't think there's been any clear evidence as to why Scotland's relationship with alcohol is so challenging but it is - so we have to do something about it."