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”
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.