I HAVE just heard the Scotch Whisky Association has lost its court challenge against the Scottish Government’s proposal to increase the price of alcoholic drink in order to reduce health and criminal damage caused by excessive drinking and to cut costs met by the NHS.
This is a quite stupid idea. The increase will affect everyone, including those who drink moderately, causing no upset to anyone, and it will have a serious impact upon the alcohol industry, one of our country’s big earners.
This is a half-baked idea upsetting many to correct the wrongs of a comparative minority.
One can, however, foresee that there will still be those who need NHS help on the fewer occasions they are still able to have a “night out”. So the supposed benefit to the NHS may not mature fully enough as to create a major relief.
It is, anyway, stupid to create an oblique cure when a direct – and better – solution is readily available.
All sort of costs arise, from attendance and action of police, use of ambulances and extra work in casualty departments, to possible work in courts as the worst offenders are charged.
The additional man-hours are very high, all bearing considerable costs in a variety of departments. Better by far to seek a cure which will definitely lead to a reduction in this over-drinking nuisance and also earn money to meet the costs.
At present, the NHS is pledged to give care and attention to people in need as quickly and efficiently as possible.
This pledge refers to illness and accident and was never intended to cater for problems which have been self-inflicted – those created by any means by the patient.
It is thus no actual departure if it is decided that any attention required, which was made necessary by the applicant, will not be treated free and a fee will be set when attention has been given.
Thus, any person brought to A&E due to deliberate drinking will face a fee for treatment. Payment will be mandatory and police action will be taken if there is any undue delay in settling the account.
This is not an undue departure from the principles of the NHS but one which will help repay the costs directly caused by the delinquency of the patient concerned. There is no reason why such a scheme should not be introduced.
I suggest that this will be a far better means of refunding the costs to police and NHS in a speedy manner and one which will cause far greater hardship to the culprits.