Published on: 6 July 2022

A new team which supports people in hospital who are affected by alcohol is due to attend a national awards ceremony after winning a regional NHS Parliamentary award.

South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust created the Alcohol Care Team (ACT) last June to help support local communities.

Backed by more than £250,000 of national funding, it delivers a new way of supporting people who are affected by alcohol. The team provides help for patients affected by alcohol, including the reasons which may be causing people to drink.

The new team is part of the Trust’s work to help tackle health inequalities.

Members of the South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust Alcohol Care Team (ACT)..JPG

Members of the South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust Alcohol Care Team (ACT).

The impact of alcohol is much greater in some areas, including South Tyneside and Sunderland, than elsewhere in the country. 

Deaths from alcohol have reached the highest levels for two decades, with some of the worst rates in the North East, while drinking alcohol plays a direct role in 60 diseases including cancers, heart and liver disease and depression.

The ACT marked its first birthday with news it has won a regional NHS Parliamentary Award in the Excellence in Healthcare Award category thanks to nominations from Houghton and Sunderland South MP Bridget Phillipson and Jarrow MP Kate Osborne.

The win resulted in an invite to the national ceremony, held in London on Wednesday, July 6, where the judges awarded the ACT a Highly Commended title.

Based at South Tyneside District Hospital and Sunderland Royal Hospital, the ACT identifies patients who come into the Emergency Departments or being cared for on wards and will benefit from help.

The specialist nurses and doctors have already supported more than 2,200 patients, with 85% of those it has worked with referred for further help.

The team works closely with the local councils, GPs and other partners to make sure that patients can continue to access support when they leave hospital.

The team also has Recovery Navigators to help people who often attend hospital with alcohol-related issues and find it difficult to access services including housing, benefit and mental health support.

Ryan Swiers, the Trust’s Consultant in Public Health, said: “We are delighted the hard work of the Alcohol Care Team has been recognised through the NHS Parliamentary Awards.

“We’re really proud of what we have achieved so far and we will be building on that as part of our commitment to dealing with alcohol harms, which has a real impact on people’s lives and their loved ones.

"We know this is a complex problem but we are committed to doing the best we can to make a difference. 

“That's why our Alcohol Care Team is so important. It's not just about treating the dependence on alcohol but trying to help with the things in people’s lives that have led to harmful drinking."

Roisin Burdis leads the team.

She said: “The team is overjoyed to have won this award and excited we’ll be represented at the national ceremony.

“We are all passionate about tackling harm from alcohol in our own patients and we’re non-judgemental, welcoming and supportive.

“As we’re still a relatively new service and we’re continually reviewing and adapting to meet the needs of those we care for and the services we work alongside.”

The team has been given great feedback from patients, family members, colleagues and partner organisations.

Among them was a patient who saw for the first time he “was on a level playing field against alcohol” following support from a nurse who helped him realise he had a choice about drinking.

Another patient offered his thanks to the team for their “constant support and encouragement” to help him achieve sobriety.

Anyone in South Tyneside who would like to see support for help with substance misuse can call South Tyneside Adult Recovery Service (Star) on 0191 917 1160 or via while people in Sunderland can contact Sunderland Wear Recovery on 0800 234 6798 or through

Both organisations also offer help to families and carers.