Paramedics deal with 50 alcohol cases a day

Ambulance crews were forced to attend more than 15,000 emergencies last year where alcohol was to blame.
Paramedics in Scotland deal with 50 alcohol cases a day. Pic: PA Wire.Paramedics in Scotland deal with 50 alcohol cases a day. Pic: PA Wire.
Paramedics in Scotland deal with 50 alcohol cases a day. Pic: PA Wire.

Figures obtained by the Scottish Conservatives reveal the number of incidents where drink was an “additional factor” have increased from 2016.

In total, there have been 53,141 alcohol-related incidents in the past three years – the equivalent of nearly 50 a day.

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The Freedom of Information response showed Glasgow had the highest number last year, with a total of 3783.

That figure was followed by Edinburgh with 1,674 and North Lanarkshire with 1,279.

The exact number is likely to be higher as paramedics often do not specifically record if alcohol was one of the causes.

The figures come as the Scottish Ambulance Service struggles to deal with the demand.

It was reported earlier this year that police and fire services had been called upon to help out with certain patients.

The Scottish Conservatives previously campaigned for measures such as recovery centres for people who had drunk too much at weekends and during big events to take the strain off ambulances and accident and emergency departments.

Scottish Conservative public health spokeswoman Annie Wells said it had become clear people who had drunk too much alcohol were putting an immense and unnecessary strain on the ambulance service.

“The SNP Government needs to ensure ambulance staff are sufficiently resourced to deal with current challenges and regrettably that includes alcohol,” she said.

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“We need to start discussing measures that could take the pressure off paramedics, including the possible role of temporary units in towns and cities to deal with those who’ve consumed too much, meaning they wouldn’t need to go to A&E or trouble the ambulance service.”

Anas Sarwar, Scottish Labour shadow cabinet secretary for health, said: “It is clear Scotland needs to radically change its relationship with alcohol, but we should also recognise there are serious health problems linked to poverty and inequality around Scotland.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Scottish Ambulance Service staffing has increased by nearly 24 per cent since 2006 and we have increased the ambulance service budget by 46 per cent, to £237 million, while we are committed to training a further 1,000 paramedics by 2021.

“We have taken a number of actions to tackle alcohol misuse, including pressing ahead with minimum unit pricing and we will be refreshing our alcohol strategy shortly.”