AN AMBULANCE is called out to deal with a drunk patient every 21 minutes in Scotland, according to shock figures revealed.
In total paramedics attended almost 80,000 incidents where alcohol intoxication was deemed a “contributing factor”.
And Scottish Ambulance Service bosses say the problem may actually be even worse than the figures suggest - as on some occasions mercy crews may not record that booze has been involved.
Recent figures showed assaults on paramedics had soared - with alcohol a “key factor” in most of those attacks.
Politicians called for the introduction of alcohol “recovery centres” to divert boozed up patients away from A&E.
Ambulance bosses were asked under freedom of information legislation to reveal how many times in the last three years they had been called out to incidents where they had to deal with drunken patients.
Between 2012 and 2014 that amounted to a staggering 79,761 incidents - including 25,071 last year alone.
The greatest proportion of those incidents came in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board area, with 25,926 recorded incidents in the last three years.
At the other end of the scale, Orkney saw just nine in the same period.
Scottish Conservative health spokesman Jackson Carlaw MSP said: “This is a tricky issue and it’s a terrible situation that our ambulance crews are having to deal with drunks so frequently.
“That’s why we are calling for the setting up of recovery centres which have already been successfully up-and-running in America and Australia.
“The recovery centres work by diverting alcohol cases away from casualty departments, freeing up under pressure clinical staff to concentrate on helping those who are genuinely in need of specialist care.
“But they would also help front-line ambulance staff too – freeing up their time so they can get to emergencies quickly and help save somebody’s life who is in real danger.”
Previous figures from the Scottish Ambulance Service show the number of assaults on crews jumped from 228 in 2010 to 306 in 2012.
Emergency workers were victims of pushing, punching and spitting and were assaulted with weapons.
The incidents were not restricted to frontline workers, with a trainee paramedic assaulted while at college while another incident occurred at the SAS national headquarters.
A spokesman for the ambulance service said: “In the majority of cases where crews are threatened or assaulted, alcohol is a key factor.”
SCOTSMAN TABLET AND MOBILE APPS