A CONSULTANT working at York's accident and emergency department has spoken out after it was inundated with drunk patients at the weekend.

On Saturday night the department at York Hospital was inundated with 85 ambulances - the same number as seen at Leeds General Infirmary - and at one stage had 40 patients needing to be seen.

More than half were believed to be there for alcohol related matters, including assaults and illness relating to intoxication, and staff faced verbal abuse with security having to be called.

During the evening the forecourt in front of A&E was also reported to have been littered with alcohol cans and bottles which hospital staff were left to clear up.

Dr Manish Gaur, a consultant working in A&E at the weekend, said the pressure on A&E was "considerably worse" than a usual busy Saturday night.

He said: " It was very busy and it was a lot of pressure on our staff and all the resources. I suspect it was the same for the police in the town. Obviously we had to deal with the critical patients first, it was a lot of pressure.

"I suspect more that 50 per cent of the workload was due to alcohol.

"People have an expectation from the NHS and the hospital to address their needs but the public also needs to accept responsibility to their attitude to drinking."

Dr Gaur said staff had worked admirably under pressure. He said: "Our staff face verbal abuse and our staff try to keep the situation calm and act in the best interest of the patient.

"Our staff have high standards and professional values."

Between 9pm and 12am the A&E department saw 34 patients during a time. Typically they would expect 15 to 20 during that time.

Between midnight and 3am an additional 20 patients headed in to the department.

Dr Gaur said he did believe some of the patients had started drinking at Saturday's races.

However, James Brennan head of marketing at York Racecourse, said many people would have been in the city enjoying the good weather and said the racecourse was strictly held to account by the licensing department. He said a wide spectrum of society went to the races, which finished in the early evening, and that problems could be indicative of "wider society challenges".

Police arrested 20 people on Saturday. There were 26 arrests on Sunday, starting from 12.01am. Police dealt with one fight outside outside Popworld where the numbers involved ran into the double figures.

On Saturday between 3pm and 4am the following morning, North Yorkshire Police attended 36 incidents across York which were alcohol related. The same time on the previous weekend police attended 19 alcohol related incidents across York.

Coun Tracey Simpson-Laing, cabinet member for homes and safer communities, said: “The council leader and I will be meeting with the Police and Crime Commissioner soon and will discuss how the council can work with and support the Police in addressing alcohol-related anti-social behaviour problems in the city centre.

“We want to support all licensed premises, including corner shops, supermarkets, restaurants and public houses who are working hard to run a business but do need to look at licence reviews where there is evidence of licensees not operating responsibly, however small in number they may be. We have asked for a representative from the York Licensed Victuallers Association to join the Council’s night-time economy group and look forward to their participation”.

Unit absent from city on Saturday

York Press:
MP Hugh Bayley, centre, meets, from left, Don Wotherspoon, Amy Moss, Michael Long and Mark Inman at the mobile community medical unit

THE situation in A&E may have been made worse by the absence of a medical unit which should have been stationed in the city centre to take pressure off York Hospital.

The unit is supposed to be in York on Friday and Saturday nights and throughout the day during the races as part of a six- month City of York Council and Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust (YAS) initiative announced in June.

But the unit was not in York on Saturday because specialist staff were needed to work in other areas, Yorkshire Ambulance Service said.

A spokeswoman said: “The community medical unit is a resource requiring specialist staff and is additional to our core mobile resources. It is not always possible to have the unit in place. We do our best to run it as often as possible, but cannot always guarantee its availability.”

Yesterday York Central MP, Hugh Bayley visited the unit to hear how emergency care practitioners can assess, treat and discharge patients with minor illnesses or injuries with the intention of reducing admissions to hospital.