Scots hospitals deal with 21,000 drunks each year

Over 400 drunk people a week are being treated in Scottish hospitals, according to a new study.

The research for the Scottish Government found hospital emergency departments are dealing with up to 21,000 people a year who are intoxicated.

The costs have been estimated at nearly £2 million each year with £700,000 spent on 1,440 patients kept in hospital overnight because of “acute intoxication”.

Another £2.12 million is spent by the police each year on holding people charged with being drunk and incapable.

There were 5,502 such cases last year, an average of 106 per week.

In July new figures showed alcohol is linked to one in every 20 deaths in Scotland, and every three hours someone dies from an alcohol-related condition.

Dr Peter Terry, chairman of the British Medical Association in Scotland, said at the time: “Scotland is awash with alcohol and the consequences are crippling the health service.

“The scale of the problem needs radical solutions. A wide ranging strategy is essential”.

In 2007 the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey showed that 51 per cent of Scottish people named alcohol as the drug which causes most problems for Scotland, compared with just 22 per cent blaming heroin.

Although 48 per cent thought that the amount of alcohol people in Scotland drink was something to be ashamed of, a similar proportion (47 per cent) said they believed the situation was no better in the rest of the UK.

The UK Government had hoped its all-day drinking laws would create a continental-style cafe-culture, but the laws, which have been introduced in England, Scotland and Wales, have been widely criticised.

According to the Local Government Association, most police authorities, Primary Care Trusts and councils have found that the new laws have failed to reduce alcohol-related incidents.

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