HUNDREDS of assaults could be prevented each year in York if hospital staff and police worked together more closely, a new report has said.
Sharing information would allow police to focus on problem areas and reduce the number of assaults by 246, it is estimated.
The report, by Dr Gillian Kelly, looked at the impact of alcohol use on York Hospital's emergency department, and is based on five years of research into different issues related to drinking, including studies of 2,855 patients between last September and April.
The report found:
- The number of alcohol-related overnight admissions fell by more than a quarter between 2011 and 2013/14
- At the same time, the number of recorded head and face assaults rose by 60 per cent.
- Almost 20 per cent of all ambulance calls in the city are alcohol-related and that figure has risen since several years ago
- Only one in four patients who have been assaulted reported it to police
- This spring, the number of women taken to hospital due to alcohol exceeded the number of men for the first time
- Hospital staff levels are not enough to keep up with drink-related incidents in the Emergency Department
On assaults, York looked to follow practices in Cardiff, where better information-sharing led to a reduction in assaults. She said it was not always easy to source all information, but said: "Hopefully the benefits of preventing hundreds of assaults per year would be worth the effort of change."
The report said York has one of the country's highest levels of binge drinking and said although York is popular with stag and hen parties from elsewhere, it is a "myth" that they are the crux of the problem, with most hospital attenders being local residents.
The report was coordinated by by York Hospital with City of York Council and Safer York Partnership to provide more detail on the impact of alcohol on Emergency Department attendance. It will be used to provide evidence on licensing decisions and increase the Alcohol Restriction Zone (ARZ), and help tackle crime, disorder and public nuisance in York.
In her report, Dr Kelly said alcohol-related ambulance journeys put a "huge burden" on resources.
She said: "The majority of patients we saw were from within the city boundaries or from nearby towns. There is an influx from elsewhere at week-ends, but the majority are still from York. There is no doubt however that the night-time economy plays a significant role in attendances."
She said overall emergency department attendances were rising annually, but "staffing and space cannot increase at the same rate.
"We need to reduce attendance within certain patient groups in order to cope with overall rising demand. By targeting alcohol-related attendance, we not only look at the acute injuries caused by binging, but may reduce the long-term health problems caused by chronic alcohol excess, thus affecting change through the generations for years to come."
Tracey Simpson-Laing, city council cabinet member for safer communities, called the research fascinating. She said: "The night-time economy is highly lucrative for the city of York and people come here as it perceived as a safe, secure environment in which to have an enjoyable night out, but inevitably some take this too far."
She said people were not being told not to drink, but said: "Healthcare should not be involved in a routine evening of fun, but all too often it is."
She said the council and partner organisations had recently implemented measures to reduce excess drinking in the city, including the ARZ, which now includes some trains to and from the North East, and a night-bus parked where people can stop, rest and sober up before going home.