Winter is party time – which brings problems for A & E

Image result for royalty free cartoon drunkAs if A & E departments didn’t have enough problems, they often have to mop up and treat drunks, who cause disruption all around.

Now comes news that the NHS has earmarked £300,000 to fund so-called “drunk tanks” in a bid to ease the pressure on hospitals and emergency services over the festive period

 

What they are

These drunk tanks are supervised areas for revellers who have had too many drinks. e.g. a safe space where they can be checked over and sleep off the booze instead of clogging up A&E departments. And often fighting belligerently with staff and hospital security. Figures show 12% to 15% of all attendances to emergency departments are alcohol related, but this can spike to up to 70% on Friday and Saturday evenings.

Thanks a bunch NHS planners.  Not only are you diverting much-needed cash to pay for these tanks, but to add insult to injury to other patients who have a medical reason for being in A & E, providing supervision will take away over-stretched staff from attending genuine emergency patients.

Funding

To have got to such a state, drunks must have had to spend a lot of money drinking.  So why on earth doesn’t the NHS charge them?  Instead the NHS is talking about rationing certain drugs for genuinely sick patients, and then announces funding is being found to look after drunks. When the Police wheel them in, the first thing that should happen is the Receptionist should take a swipe of their credit card. And for a sensible amount – I am told it costs the NHS around £400 to deal with the average drunk.

A straw poll amongst police in an A & E found every officer would be only too keen to help do this;  as one told me  “if they were too drunk me and my colleagues would pass them over a card reader until their contactless card had registered enough”.

This letter in The Daily Telegraph might have one solution – and save a lot of money

SIR – When ambulance staff went on strike in the Eighties, police officers fulfilled the role on overtime. With an ancient Ford Transit and some equipment that looked like it had been in someone’s garage, we were told to sit at the police motorway post and wait for the phone to ring.

It rang at three in the morning, reporting a young man at a house in Stevenage who, according to his mother, had lost the use of his legs.

When we got there, it was clear he was suffering principally from a surfeit of alcohol. Still, we lifted him into one of those awkward metal chairs and attempted to carry him out through the garden to the waiting “ambulance”. Unfortunately, due to a lack of manual handling skills, we tipped him into the fishpond, where he immediately recovered the use of his legs.

We congratulated ourselves that local ratepayers were getting both ambulance staff and doctors for their money, and went for a cup of tea.

Richard Light                                                                                                                                                 Hitchin, Hertfordshire

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