Last updated: 13.09.11

Hospital develops e-learning course for alcohol misuse

An online learning course designed to assist medical staff in helping patients avoid alcohol misuse has gone live.

Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust has spearheaded a new way of teaching which should provide valuable skills to those operating at the front line of primary services in the region, as around 4,000 people are admitted to hospital in the city every year due to alcohol, according to BBC News.

The e-learning course is available for professionals in both primary care and pharmacy settings, and is designed to help learners recognise when substance misuse among patients might be seriously impacting on their health and therefore deliver advice.

It is also now available across the country through the Alcohol Learning Centre, a development which Dr Paul Edmondson-Jones, director of public health and primary care at the trust, said he was "really pleased" to see.

"Other hospital staff around the country will also benefit from this training," he said.

Dr Edmondson-Jones added that the trust recognised the "impact alcohol misuse has on patients in Portsmouth and [is] keen to do all [it] can to reduce alcohol problems in the future".

Leanne Doohan, a commentator on online learning initiatives for the public and voluntary sector, claimed that while e-learning was not the answer for training in every topic, the benefits of using virtual learning environments to enhance continual professional development were wide ranging.

Speaking to Guardian Professional, Ms Doohan said that with e-learning "training can be delivered in a much more cost-effective way with both travel expenses and time away from the office reduced".

She added that virtual learning also allowed companies to give new staff immediate training without having to wait for a physical classroom space to become available.

This aspect, according to International E-learning Association president David Guralnick, is known as the just-in-time online product. Together with the idea of continued performance support and professional development, the concept is still relatively underutilised in companies at present, he added.

Mr Guralnick suggested there is a strong element of growth in the market open to e-learning providers.