Drunk tanks could be rolled out across the NHS to ease the pressure in A&E units
These are mobile units specially fitted out with beds, drips for rehydration and showers where drunk patients can sober up.
They are usually staffed by ambulance workers and nurses and sited in city centres, away from hospitals.
NHS England – which runs the health service – will decide next year whether they should routinely deploy mobile drunk tank units to regions across the country
Drunk tanks are mobile units specially fitted out with beds, drips for rehydration and showers where drunk patients can sober up
As many as one in seven patients in A&E are very drunk and they divert care away from the elderly and others who are seriously ill.
They are often aggressive and violent and take up far more of staff’s time than sober patients.
Several cities have already introduced drunk tanks into their city centres on Friday and Saturday night including Bristol, Newcastle, Manchester and Cardiff.
NHS England – which runs the health service – will decide next year whether they should be routinely deployed in other areas of the country.
They will base their decision on the results of an ongoing trial assessing whether drunk tanks effectively relieve pressures in A&E.
Simon Stevens, the chief executive of the NHS, said patients who turned up in A&E intoxicated were ‘frankly selfish.’
‘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 A&E nurses have to be diverted to looking after revellers who have overindulged and who just need somewhere to safely to sleep it off.
As many as one in seven patients in A&E are very drunk and they divert care away from the elderly and others who are seriously ill. Pictured above, revellers at the A&E in Newcastle during a Friday night shift
Several cities have already introduced drunk tanks into their city centres on Friday and Saturday night including Bristol (pictured above) Newcastle, Manchester and Cardiff
‘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 first-hand how paramedics and A&Es are being called on to deal with drunk and often aggressive people.’
Katherine Brown, chief executive of the Institute of Alcohol Studies said: ‘Sobering centres can ease pressure on our over stretched emergency services.
‘They can also make A&E departments less threatening for patients, particularly the young and elderly who too often face violent, disruptive behaviour from drunken members of the public.
‘However, it is important to note that sobering centres or ‘drunk tanks’ must be clinically-led, given that symptoms of extreme drunkenness can mask an array of ailments such as brain injury.
‘Ultimately, coping with excess alcohol use sucks up too much public money and more needs to be done to prevent alcohol related illness and injury.’