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NHS England studies use of more drunk tanks to ease pressure on EDs

Drunk tanks could be rolled out across England to ease pressure on emergency departments and ambulance services, with NHS England studying statistics from the New Year period to assess the viability of widening the schemes

Alcohol intoxication management services, also known as drunk tanks, could be rolled out across England in a bid to ease pressure on emergency departments (EDs) and ambulance services.

NHS England is studying statistics from the New Year period to assess the viability of widening the schemes later this year.

Drunk tanks offer supervised areas where intoxicated revellers can be checked and even sleep off the effects of overindulgence.

They are already used in some of England’s major cities including Newcastle upon Tyne, Bristol and Manchester.

Peak times

Bristol set up England’s first drunk tank three years ago in a joint venture between the police, the ambulance service and a hospital.

There is also a nurse-led alcohol treatment centre in Cardiff city


A mobile alcohol recovery centre fitted with beds, showers and a waiting area
in Bristol. Picture: Southwest News Service

Alcohol intoxication management services, also known as drunk tanks, could be rolled out across England in a bid to ease pressure on emergency departments (EDs) and ambulance services.

NHS England is studying statistics from the New Year period to assess the viability of widening the schemes later this year.

Drunk tanks offer supervised areas where intoxicated revellers can be checked and even sleep off the effects of overindulgence.

They are already used in some of England’s major cities including Newcastle upon Tyne, Bristol and Manchester.

Peak times

Bristol set up England’s first drunk tank three years ago in a joint venture between the police, the ambulance service and a hospital.

There is also a nurse-led alcohol treatment centre in Cardiff city centre supported by an urgent care service assistant, a paramedic and a police officer.


Picture: Southwest News Service

An estimated 12% to 15% of attendances at EDs in the UK are due to acute alcohol intoxication.

This peaks on Friday and Saturday evenings, when as many as 70% of people going to EDs do so because of alcohol, according to NHS England.

Responsible

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said the public need to use the NHS responsibly: 'When the health service is pulling out all the stops to care for sick and vulnerable patients who rightly and genuinely need our support, it's frankly selfish when ambulance paramedics and ED nurses have to be diverted to looking after revellers who have overindulged and who just need somewhere to safely to sleep it off.


Picture: Southwest News Service

‘The NHS doesn’t stand for "National Hangover Service" but in the run-up to Christmas, having been out with ambulance crews on night shifts in London and the West Midlands, I've seen firsthand how paramedics and EDs are being called on to deal with drunk and often aggressive people.’

A study is being carried out by the National Institute for Health Research looking at whether alcohol intoxication management services should be rolled out as a way of managing intoxicated patients.

An NHS England spokesperson said the results of the study are due later this year.


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