In Brief

NHS funding Christmas ‘drunk tanks’

Extra measures to keep revellers out of A&E as ‘Mad Friday’ arrives

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The NHS is helping to pay for so-called drunk tanks in city centres in a bid to prevent intoxicated Christmas revellers from clogging up hospitals.

NHS England has set aside £300,000 for regional ambulance trusts to set up the holding areas, staffed by a combined force of professional paramedics and St Johns Ambulance volunteers. 

The pop-up units provide a supervised area where those who have overindulged can be assessed and offered basic treatment, as well as providing a safe place to “sleep it off”.

Drunk tanks are already used by individual ambulance trusts, but this is the first time the system is being coordinated on nationwide basis. The move comes in response to the annual spike in alcohol-related incidents over the festive period. 

As the London Evening Standard notes: “This Friday, the last before the Christmas, is dubbed ‘Mad Friday’ as workers across the country celebrate the start of the holiday season, often with heavy drinking.”

So far, trusts covering London, Exeter, Bristol, Oxford, Hereford, Norwich, Blackpool and Southampton have confirmed that they are participating in the scheme.

“Most of these areas already provide drunk tanks in their city or town centres on Fridays and Saturdays, and the funding will enable them to expand their services over the holiday season,” the BBC reports.

The extra provision “should help take the pressure off hospital and 999 services”, the broadcaster adds.

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said: “NHS does not stand for ‘National Hangover Service’, which is why we want to help other organisations take care of those who just need somewhere safe to get checked over and perhaps sleep it off.”

Research indicates that up to 70% of A&E admissions on Friday and Saturday nights are alcohol related, says the Standard.

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