SPECIAL paramedic patrols will be out in force in York tonight as New Year's Eve revellers take to the city's streets.

North Yorkshire and York Primary Care Trust (PCT) has commissioned its weekend paramedic patrol, which enables people to access urgent and emergency care on the city's streets, reducing unnecessary 999 calls and visits to casualty.

The team focuses on people who have drunk too much, fallen, or been fighting.

Dave Butterfield, Yorkshire Ambulance Service clinical team leader, said: "The paramedic patrol partnership is going from strength to strength.

"It works for the people who are injured because they're seen quicker; it works for the police because they have a paramedic on the scene, helping to cut down unnecessary trips to Accident and Emergency (A&E); it works for the hospital because they see fewer people who don't need A&E treatment; and it works for us because it frees up our two-crew ambulances for serious incidents and emergencies.

"This is about being able to treat those people who might have had a bit too much to drink, fallen over, or got into a fight.

"We're able to treat them on the scene while the police officer is able to handle difficult situations and public order. It makes for a really good partnership."

The rapid response police and paramedic team usually works on Friday and Saturday nights, Bank Holidays and occasions where large numbers of revellers are anticipated, such as race meetings. It was first introduced in the summer and has proved a success, giving people access to urgent and emergency care more quickly.

Wherever alcohol and injuries are involved, paramedics assess the person's needs and determine whether they need emergency, on-scene treatment or more comprehensive treatment at hospital.

The evidence so far indicates that, in most cases, the paramedic can give safe and appropriate treatment on the scene.

Martin O'Keeffe, service development manager at the PCT, said: "This partnership arrangement between the PCT, Yorkshire Ambulance Service and the police is about joined-up, innovative thinking which benefits everyone.

"It means using the skills and resources we have to their full advantage and not compromising patients who have a genuine need for attending A&E or being admitted as an emergency.

"New Year's Eve is a very popular night for York's pubs and clubs, and the paramedic patrol will certainly help to ensure it's a safe and enjoyable night for everyone."