Hospitals are overwhelmed by alcohol cases at weekends because people think drinking themselves into an “anaesthetic state” is acceptable, the NHS’s head of critical care has said.
Dr Bob Winter criticised the way party-goers can buy enough alcohol to “die” with a £10 note.
Speaking at an NHS health and care event, he said: “We need a change in the culture of drinking. It must start with education.”
Dr Winter said that on a recent Sunday he discovered a total of 25 out of 85 patients in intensive care at five NHS trusts had alcohol-related illnesses or injuries.
Last year, 1.2 million patients went to Accident and Emergency as a result of alcohol abuse, and figures show that alcohol costs the NHS an estimated £2.7 billion a year.
He said: “Local authorities need to take some responsibility for the licensing of these places and the Government needs to take some responsibility in terms of minimum pricing”.
He said: “People drink themselves into an anaesthetic state and their friends think it is acceptable. They think it is reasonable for an ambulance to come if needed.”
“People vomit all over the inside of the ambulance and then it is off the road for 45 minutes”, he added.
Dr Winter said: “It should be physically impossible to buy enough alcohol to die at 10am for £10.”
Last month, the Home Office announced that a ban on selling cheap alcohol would come into force in England and Wales from 6 April.
Supermarkets are currently able to sell alcohol below-cost – which is defined as duty plus VAT – and the ban will limit the way alcohol is discounted.
An Office for National Statistics (ONS) researcher recently warned that new social media drinking games could reverse the decline in alcohol-related deaths in the UK.
In 2012 there were 381 fewer deaths relating to alcohol abuse than in 2011, according to figures from the ONS.
But ONS researcher Olugbenga Olatunde said: “It is possible in the future we will get a lot more of these deaths because of games like NekNominate.”
NekNominate involves players posting videos on Facebook of themselves drinking. Others then attempt to outperform these stunts by drinking more alcohol or in more dangerous situations.