In 2016, the NHS has received over 80,000 alcohol related, 999 emergency calls which requires about 7% of staff to deal with these emergencies. On the weekends, this number can be even higher with 1 in every 5 calls being from someone who has had too much to drink. Aside from the primary health concerns for the individual who has drunk too much, it also draws away limited resources from those who may need it more.
Binge drinking can not only end in a messy night out with cuts, scraps and bruises but also lead to more serious health problems such as liver failure and even death. However there are simple steps that you can take to ensure that you enjoy the night out safely.
- Keep track of how much you have already had to drink. It is much easier to stop yourself going over the limit when you know how much you’ve had.
- Organize how you will be getting back home and don’t leave it up to chance. Planning with a friend can help avoid any unwanted accidents.
- Drink smaller drinks and of lower concentration. You can enjoy your night for longer without a severe hangover a potential call to 999.
- Don’t feel influenced to drink a certain amount from peer pressure. You do not have an obligation to drink which may just make you ill.
Taking these precautions into account can help move resources to where it’s needed. London air ambulance services do not usually attend to alcohol related issues as they are easily accessible by other forms of emergency service such as the road ambulance or ‘Booze buses’ common in the West End however it still increases the workload for staff sifting through urgent calls and overcrowded hospitals.
In turn, this can affect our ability to respond as fast to life-threatening injuries elsewhere in London. Therefore, ensuring that you safely have a fun night can actually save someone’s life.
Some Facts and Figures
- In 2014, there were an estimated 1.1 million people who were admitted to hospital directly or indirectly from alcohol consumption.
- Alcohol related cases cost the NHS about £3.6 million a year. That is a staggering amount of resources that could have been utilized more efficiently.
- Alcohol related crimes have cost the government around £10 billion a year.
But there is also good news. Thanks to the growing awareness of binge drinking and unsafe consumption, in 2016 we saw a decrease in overall consumption by about 18%, which has lessened the burden on our emergency services and the taxpayers.