Inspiring NHS Service Wins BMJ Mental Health Team of the Year Award


A team of NIHR CLAHRC alcohol researchers and clinicians from South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM) have won the Mental Health Team of the Year award at the 2019 British Medical Journal (BMJ) Awards.

The awards took place at a ceremony in London on Wednesday, 24 April.

Headed by Professor Colin Drummond, the winning team includes SMPA Vice-Chair and Consultant Addictions Psychiatrist, Dr. Emily Finch, along with researchers and clinicians from SLaM. The team was awarded for their innovative Alcohol Assertive Outreach Treatment (AAOT) programme. Their approach to treatment has shown to improve outcomes for alcohol-dependent patients and to result in significant cost savings for the NHS.

Assertive outreach is a treatment approach in which health professionals provide regular, proactive support to patients and service users at home or within their community instead of asking them to come to a clinic or hospital. The team’s use of this approach marks the first time it has been used to treat and evaluate patients for alcohol-related conditions.

Some of the early results of this approach include:

  • A 48% reduction in the number of bed days in hospital compared to those treated with care as usual (calculated over a six month period)

  • A net saving of £10,500 per patient in inpatient costs alone in the first year

  • An estimated £575 million in cost savings to the NHS  

Dr. Finch commented:

“I am really delighted on behalf of all the AOTT team that their excellent work has been recognised in this way. Receiving this award is a great morale boost for the NHS addiction services which have been challenged in recent years by extensive funding cuts. This BMJ award recognises the importance of high-quality multidisciplinary NHS care for patients with complex alcohol-related needs.”

Alcohol-related hospital admissions in England have doubled over a 10 year period to more than 1.1million. Alcohol use costs the NHS £3.5billion a year and costs the wider national economy £21billion.

For more information on the BMJ awards, visit: