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Cut ‘needless drunk admissions’ to ease A&E pressures, says Tory


Pressure should be relieved on the capital’s accident and emergency services by removing drunks and treating them in specialist recovery centres, according to Conservative London Assembly Member Andrew Boff.

Speaking before this afternoon’s meeting of the London Assembly health committee, Mr Boff said: “We need to urgently reduce needless admissions if we are to relieve the current pressure on London’s A&E departments.

“Getting too drunk is no excuse for wasting our health resources, especially when each A&E visit costs the taxpayer over £200,” he said. “We should remove drunks from our A&Es in London by using specially built sobering facilities, such as Alcohol Recovery Centres and Booze Buses.

“Recovery centres provide a place for the intoxicated to sober-up, and booze buses help treat drunken patients on-the-go, both allowing these patients to avoid emergency departments altogether, if they have no other medical complications,” he said.

Mr Boff added: “With 7% of all emergency callouts being alcohol related this practical measure could lift the massive burden on A&Es and save over £40m every year. It’s common sense.”

“We should remove drunks from our A&Es in London by using specially built sobering facilities”

Andrew Boff

Mr Boff said he planned to propose the policy to Dr Anne Rainsberry, director of NHS England’s London Region at this afternoon’s health committee meeting at City Hall.

In September, health secretary Jeremy Hunt said he had a “great deal of sympathy” for the idea of charging alcohol-related admissions money if they end up in A&E units.

In a radio interview, he acknowledged that there were practical difficulties in introducing a charge, but insisted that people should be made to take responsibility for their actions.

According to UK research published in 2012, more than one in 10 people attend A&E wards with an alcohol-related injury, while 3% of patients attend due to alcohol-related illness.


Readers' comments (6)

  • Why just London. It happens throughout the UK

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  • They've clearly never been to Glasgow!!
    But I do agree that sobering centres and booze buses are a good idea.

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  • Shouldn't be restricted to alcohol either.

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  • What a stupid debate! A&Es aren't struggling because they're full of drunks (by the way, mind your values there ... politicians never go out on the lam, do they???), they're in trouble because the system doesn't have enough staff or beds to move admissions out of departments quickly.

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  • I work in A&E (not in London) and don't think 'drunk tanks' would make the slightest bit of difference. The greatest increase in A&E attendance has been amongst frail elderly people and those with chronic health problems. This is mainly because nursing homes seem unable to look after sick people, GPs will not see or treat patients at home and support for people in the community is so poor. Many of the solutions to the crisis in A&E lie with community care and preventing people needing to come to A&E in the first place. It's all too easy for politicians to blame the public.

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  • Brian Emeney - what makes you think nursing homes "seem unable to look after sick people"?

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