Growing drunkenness threatens health service

Unless society starts to take it seriously, the problem can only get worse.

Sunday January 3 2016

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Sometimes you have to wonder if we are becoming a nation of boozers.

New figures show that hospital visits for alcohol poisoning in England have doubled in six years, with the highest rates among females aged 15 to 19.

And another study reveals that up to 70 per cent of all cases handled by hospital emergency departments at weekends are drink-related.

Treating injuries caused by drunkenness, at an average £249 (Sh37,800) per patient, is costing one Newcastle upon Tyne hospital £1 million (Sh151.8 million) a year.

The Nuffield Trust reported that emergency admission to hospitals in England for long-term drink-related reasons, such as liver disease, have risen by more than 50 per cent in nine years to 250,000.

Claire Currie, joint author of the Nuffield report, said: “Our research... represents a stark challenge for the health service at a time when it’s already under great pressure. The government must consider measures such as minimum drink pricing, restricting availability and limiting advertising.”

Dr Jim Connolly of the Newcastle Royal Victoria Infirmary said: “Hospital emergency departments should not be expected to be a baby-sitting service for those who have drunk too much alcohol.”

And Jackie Ballard of Alcohol Concern said other problem patients were middle-aged and older people drinking more than they should, often in their own homes.

“These are the people who tend to require the most complex and expensive health care due to alcohol’s impact on the ageing body.” She said alcohol was linked to more than 60 medical conditions.

“Unless society starts to take it seriously, the problem can only get worse.”

999 CALL
The 999 call was received by the ambulance centre in Somerset.

Ambulance service here, can I help you? Mummy fell down the stairs. She was holding the baby.

What is your name? Emma.

How old are you, Emma? Three.

Are Mummy and the baby asleep? Mummy keeps going to sleep.

Is the baby asleep? I don’t know.

Is Mummy breathing? Yes.

Is Mummy bleeding? No. Mummy’s head hurts.

How old is the baby? The baby’s in Mummy’s tummy.

Oh, I see! The baby’s in mummy’s tummy! How big is Mummy’s tummy? Very, very big.

Wonderful, so you are going to be a big sister? At Christmas!

Can you stay there and hold your Mummy’s hand? I’m giving Mummy a cuddle.

Can you see some men in green suits, ambulance men? Yes, they are here.

Emma was alone in the house when her heavily-pregnant mother, Catherine Bazzard, fell on the stairs and was knocked unconscious.


Although Emma had not been told about 999, her five-year-old brother had been learning the emergency routine at school and talked about it at the dinner table.

Not only did Emma correctly call for help, she gave the operator her full address – house number, street and town – and told her the front door was unlocked.

Emma’s mother fell on her stomach and the impact started labour. She was rushed to hospital and delivered of a boy.

That was last November and since then Emma has turned four.

Said her mother: “We had no idea Emma could even tell us what street she lived in, let alone the number and town. She’s such a clever, amazing little girl.”
Since this column seems to be all about health, here is another way of looking at these anxieties:

1. The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Britons.

2. The Mexicans eat a lot of fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Britons.

3. The Chinese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Britons.

4. The Italians drink a lot of red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Britons.

5. The Germans drink a lot of beer, eat a lot of sausages and fats and suffer fewer heart attacks than Britons.

CONCLUSION: Britons should eat and drink what they like. What kills them is speaking English.

And finally, back to the boozers… authorities in east London are taking action against drunks who misbehave at weekends, specifically men who pee in public.

Fed up with spending £100,000 (Sh15.1 million) a year to clean urine stains off walls and pavements, officers of Hackney Council contacted an American company, Ultra Tech, which manufactures a liquid repellent.

The repellent is painted against a wall, creating a barrier which rejects liquid, meaning that urine will bounce off the wall and over the shoes or trousers of the pee-er.

Councillor Feryal Dermici said: “If the prospect of being arrested and fined doesn’t put them off from weeing in the street, maybe the risk of getting covered by their own urine will.”

The council has paid £1,000 (Sh151,815) to treat walls in two locations, but it declined to say which ones.