“It’s really selfish to get so blotto that you end up in an ambulance or A&E”
Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England
Partygoers who ring in the new year by downing as much alcohol as they can are putting the NHS under huge strain, says the boss of the health service.
Millions of us are looking forward to the party of the year as we countdown to midnight.
But on celebration nights like New Year’s Eve, over a third of people in A&E are there because they hit the bottle.
Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, has come down hard on “selfish” drinkers who take a New Year’s tipple way over the healthy limit.
He said: “At a time of year when hospitals are always under pressure, it’s really selfish to get so blotto that you end up in an ambulance or A&E.”
“In our towns and cities this Christmas and new year, the paramedic called to a drunk party-goer passed out on the pavement is an ambulance crew obviously not then available for a genuine medical emergency.
“Casualty nurses and doctors are understandably frustrated about the NHS being used as a national hangover service.”
Pubs and clubs are expecting the most hectic night of the year, with extra staff on hand to cope with the rush of alcohol-fuelled punters.
Revellers are also being warned to watch out for fake alcohol which could cause permanent blindness and kidney damage.
But paramedics may not be able to give life-saving treatment to those who suffer heart attacks, strokes and breathing difficulties if punters who downed too much booze are the ones queueing up at A&E.
The health boss’ comments come at the end of a turbulent year for the NHS, with historic levels of debt and slipping quality standards in emergency services.
Alarms over safety standards at around two-thirds of A&E units in England were raised in an October report from the Care Quality Commission.
Emergency waiting rooms were found to be overcrowded or staff could not get access to life-saving equipment in more than one in ten of A&Es inspected.
Last year, the NHS ran into an overspend of £2.45 billion – the greatest debt it has ever been in.
But there’s good news because 2,200 more paramedics have joined the NHS ambulance services since 2010.
And it might not just be the adults who may enjoy a glass of wine too many tonight.
A shocking one in three 15-year-old girls have been drunk at least twice in their lives, according to a study from the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) earlier this year.
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