A paramedic has told MPs that special drink-clinics are needed to ease the pressure on accident and emergency.
Brian Hayes, a team leader at Waterloo ambulance station in London, told the Commons Health Committee that hospital targets mean drinkers were often sent home without enough anti-abuse advice.
He said a specialist unit should be set up in London’s West End to deal with the immediate medical needs of drinkers and to attempt to prevent them becoming long-term casualties.
Mr Hayes, who pioneered a ‘booze bus’ to take pressure off ambulances in London, gave a graphic account of the kind of injuries and illnesses medical staff have to deal with every night of the week.
He told the committee: ‘There is a massive void between us picking these patients up, them going into A&E and being treated and then the following up of the patients from there.’
Robin Touquet, professor of emergency medicine at St Mary’s Hospital, London, said young people thought that ‘no government would give 24-hour availability at cheap prices if alcohol was dangerous’ and resultingly assumed alcohol must be safe.