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We’re Not ‘National Hangover Service,’ N.H.S. Tells U.K. Drinkers

Mr. Stevens urged the public to take a more responsible and restrained approach to the health service, particularly over the New Year weekend. The health service has reported a huge increase in the number of people referred to emergency rooms in the first two hours of the new year because of excessive alcohol consumption.

Britain has one of the highest levels of alcohol misuse in the world. During the year, approximately 15 percent of people who seek treatment at emergency rooms do so in response to alcohol consumption, the health service said. That peaks on Friday and Saturday evenings, especially during the holiday season, when as many as 70 percent of the patients are there for alcohol-related matters.

To ease some of the strain on emergency services during this time of the year, the health service is looking to roll out more supervised units equipped with beds, showers, drips and rehydration. The units are being used in cities like Newcastle, Bristol, Manchester and Cardiff, and if they succeed in reducing pressure on emergency services this year, the health service will scale up their use in other major cities in 2018.

Researchers at Cardiff University, who are studying the effectiveness of the units in managing intoxicated patients, have found evidence that they had helped cut the number of assaults on health-service employees by 40 percent.

Simon Moore, a professor at Cardiff University, said that the research suggested that people were referring intoxicated friends and family members to the hospital rather than risk injury when dealing with someone who was drunk and disorderly.

Health service employees say there is a need for more education about the consequences of binge drinking, as well as on how to address the problem without calling on emergency services.

“Many of the referrals related to excessive alcohol consumption take place because people tend to panic and don’t know what steps to take,” said Lisa Hobbs, a paramedic who worked for the Guy’s and St. Thomas’ hospitals in London on New Year’s Eve last year. “In many cases the situation can be handled by taking the patient home, hydrating them and allowing them to just sleep it off.”

Another reason for the rise in patients, Ms. Hobbs said, was that alcohol consumption led to increased aggression, and that in turn could lead to fights in which they were injured.

“The only real solution to prevent that is for people to drink less,” she said.

Source: NYT > World

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