A MEDICAL centre for drunk people could be set up in York at weekends to ease pressure on paramedics and the city’s hospital.
The centre would provide treatment and a safe place for people who have drunk too much, a City of York Council draft report has recommended. It would be manned by police, paramedics, emergency care practitioners and volunteers from Street Angels.
The idea could follow the example of a centre in a former church in Cardiff, where patients can sleep off the effects of alcohol.
A report due to be discussed this week suggests the council inquires about opening a weekend treatment and recovery centre to stop drunk people putting a “disporportionate burden” on health services.
The report said: “Members recognised that an ambulance crew caught up dealing with an antisocial or alcohol-related incident that could have been avoided could be delayed from reaching someone with a more serious life-threatening condition such as a heart attack.”
Such a unit would provide an alternative for people who did not really need the emergency department, it said.
Two committee members spent two nights in York’s emergency department in November and recorded people being sick and sleeping off the effects of drinking. A spot check at midnight found 20 people who need not have been there.
The head of emergency operations at Yorkshire Ambulance Service, meanwhile, said he had witnessed as many as 14 ambulances waiting outside the hospital on a weekend night.
Demand on the Yorkshire Ambulance Service increases by 28 per cent at the weekends. Lobby group Alcohol Concern has supported the idea of a centre but said the reasons why people were getting so drunk should be tackled as well.
A spokesman said: “The Cardiff alcohol treatment centre has taken a lot of pressure off A&E at the city’s main hospital. Many of the people picked up drunk in the city centre simply need rehydrating and a sleep, and treating them on the spot can free up ambulances to deal with genuine emergencies.”
An audit of the York Hospital emergency department in 2011 found six per cent of day-time attendances and 20 per cent at night involved alcohol.
The report cites the example of a man aged 29, who was taken into A&E so drunk he could not stand, repeatedly fell over and urinated all over the cubicle, blocking a bed for five hours.
Street Angels, the church-led volunteers who help look after vulnerable and/or drunk people on Friday and Saturday nights in York, should also continue to be supported, the draft report recommended.
Easing the pressure on A&Es
CARDIFF’S £85,000 centre has worked to ease pressure on A&E services since opening in 2012, it has been reported.
The centre, which is manned by emergency practitioners, medical assistants and a police officer who deals with any violent disturbances, sees many visitors hooked up to drips to be treated for excessive alcohol intake.
The triage project is a joint venture between Cardiff and Vale of Glamorgan councils and Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, and has also received support from authorities including South Wales Police.
Local police have said officials from Holland and Vienna had looked to learn from the idea.