London’s seasonal ‘booze hospital’ for drink-related injuries has opened its doors even earlier this year, in order to relieve the pressure on emergency services over the festive period.For the next three weeks any 999 calls that involve alcohol will be referred to the London Ambulance Service’s (LAS) temporary treatment centre in Liverpool Street, which has responded to an increase in demand by opening a week earlier than normal and extending its hours to include Christmas Eve.
Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night two designated St John’s vehicles will be on hand to bring the patients back to the centre, where medics will decide whether to send them on to hospital or treat them there. It is hoped this initiative will free up front-line ambulances so they can respond to serious casualties – such as strokes, road accidents, and cardiac arrests – much quicker.
Yesterday a spokesman from the LAS stressed the significance of the centre’s contribution to the emergency services: “Over 200 drunken people are expected to be picked up by the centre overall this year – that’s 200 ambulances over 13 nights that will now be free to respond to other emergency calls.”
The number of people picked up by the booze hospital has almost tripled since it first started, from just 56 in 2007, to 140 last year. Asked why the LAS thought this was the case, the service’s spokesperson said they were not in a position to comment.
“This is about freeing up resources,” he said. “Staff don’t mind working at the booze hospital because they know how important this is for the ambulance service. They want to do their bit to help.”
Last weekend bad weather and transport meant only fourteen festive revelers ended up in the centre, but this figure is expected to rise dramatically as the Christmas party season gets into full swing.