Latest figures from the ambulance service reveal that 68% of all weekend calls which require paramedic assistance are caused by alcohol abuse. The incidents can range from anti-social behaviour, people injuring themselves from being intoxicated with alcohol and ending up so drunk that they are in need of hospitalisation. This is beginning to delay the service from coping with real emergencies during the weekend beginning Friday running through Saturday and ending early Sunday morning. The figures are from the Ambulance Service records that have been taken every weekend since April 2009.
John Morton of the Scottish Ambulance Service said: “This means we are being called out to people who are simply drunk and incapable of moving whereas we could be dealing with more urgent and serious calls. I would encourage any initiative that would help us to have more responsible drinking.”
Labour health spokeswoman Cathy Jamieson feels the “Challenge 21” policy should now be mandatory and the police should be enforcing the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005. This would stop alcohol being sold to underage children and see less calls being made to ambulance services.
The Government are trying to introduce a minimum price of alcohol which could save Scotland up to £950m over the next 10 years by reducing the harmful effects of alcohol and with the Scottish public not drinking as much, ambulance services would have more time to deal with serious emergencies. Alcohol would now be priced at 40p per unit level and would end up costing a moderate drinker £11 more a year, however a heavy drinker could be spending £137 more a year.