The NHS has announced it will be funding council ‘drunk tanks’ over the Christmas period to ease the pressure on local hospitals.
NHS England will make up to £300,000 available over the festive period to pay for dozens of supervised areas where those who are intoxicated can be checked over.
NHS chief executive Simon Stevens said that the ‘drunk tanks’, which will be run by charities, councils and voluntary groups, can take pressure off paramedics, nurses and doctors during the busy party season.
‘I have seen first-hand while out with ambulance crews in the run-up to last Christmas the problems that drunk and often aggressive people cause paramedics and A&E staff who just want to help those who need it most,’ he said.
‘NHS does not stand for “National Hangover Service” which is why we want to help other organisations take care of those who just need somewhere safe to get checked over and perhaps sleep it off.’
An estimated 12% to15% of attendances at emergency departments in the UK are due to acute alcohol intoxication. This peaks on Friday and Saturday evenings when as many as 70% of attendances can be alcohol related.
Mr Stevens also urged local authorities to make more use of the ‘late night levy’ which they can impose on bars and clubs to put on safe spaces for revellers.
Cllr Ian Hudspeth, chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said the late night levy was a ‘useful tool’, but argued it was ‘limited’.
‘The requirement to apply the levy to late night businesses across the whole of a local authority area, rather than just a specific part of the area, has limited its use among councils,’ he said.
‘We are urging Government to enact legislation as soon as possible which enables councils to define specific parts of their areas that the levy should apply to, which stands to increase its use.’
Cllr Hudspeth also called on the Government to reverse public health funding cuts.