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Drunk Tank Proposed To Tackle York's Alcohol Problem


8:24am 19th February 2014

A drunk tank could be set up in York on a Friday and Saturday night to ease the pressure on A&E at York Hospital.

A 2011 survey found almost 20% of A&E cases at night could be traced back to alcohol, during the day it was 6%. Of those people who do end up in A&E because of drink 9.6% stay for 2-3 hours, 13.7% for 3-4 hours, 14.9% for 4-6 hours and 20% for more than six hours.

Many of the drunks who are treated by staff at York Hospital are abusive and unable to stand. Often friends who are similarly drunk have come with them, causing a drain on the hospital's resources.

One 29 year old man was brought in by ambulance and was too drunk to speak or stand. He slept in a cubicle for two hours and it was a further two hours before he was sober enough to stand – with two security men stood watch to stop him wandering off around the department and falling over. When he was finally able to stand properly he needed to go to the toilet but was still too drunk to fill a bottle and urinated all over the cubicle. He had his house keys and money and left after five hours after an ambulance journey, being seen multiple times by doctors and nurses, being watched by security guards, and blocking cubicle which could have been used by someone else.

Councillors spent one weekend at A&E in York Hospital to see the effects of alcohol for themselves. They saw people drunkenly sleeping off the effects of alcohol and others being sick.

To tackle the problem a drunk tank would be set up in York, similar to a scheme in Cardiff which deals with between 15-20 patients a night to allow people to sleep off their alcohol.

Glass could also be banned from pubs and clubs in the city to reduce the number of injuries. Street Angels in York are joining a national campaign to get glasses and glass bottles banned in all pubs and clubs. It's as women taking off their high heels after a night out are walking bare foot on pavements and can cut their feet on broken glass. Street Angels give the women flip flops but are pushing for a ban on glass.

The group of city councillors have made five recommendations:

  • A drunk tank is set up on a Friday and Saturday night.
  • Street Angels continue to be funded by the city council.
  • York Hospital monitors the problems alcohol causes A&E departments.
  • An advertising campaign is launched by the council and NHS England to warn people of the risks of alcohol.
  • A ban on glasses and glass bottles is considered for pubs and clubs in the city centre.

The proposals will be discussed this afternoon.


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