A&E drunks ‘should be arrested’

Published: Sunday 28th December 2014 by The News Editor

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Drunks who become abusive and disorderly in hospital A&Es should be arrested as fines do not work, the head of the College of Emergency Medicine has said.

Dr Cliff Mann claimed people would be less inclined to get drunk and end up in emergency departments if they knew they may be arrested and potentially prosecuted.

He told the Observer newspaper that current methods of dealing with drunks are not a deterrent, as many people end up simply repeating their behaviour.

“(Police) tend to try to get people home or to hospital, and then they do it again the next week, because we aren’t really using carrots and sticks to change their behaviour,” he said.

“There are no sanctions on people for being a nuisance and for taking up vital A&E resources as a result of their own alcohol excess. Fines have clearly not worked.”

Dr Mann, who said his aim is to “diminish the harm from drunkenness” and backed calls for minimum pricing, said weekend binge drinking should not be accepted or considered normal.

He described argumentative and obnoxious patients, and their acquaintances, who can end up being physically abusive towards staff, and said workers are fed up having to deal with such people.

But a number of organisations, including the Police Federation, disagreed with Dr Mann’s proposal, saying the issue is too complex to deal with by “a crackdown on troublesome drunks”, adding that jailing people is not always the answer.

Katherine Brown, director of the Institute of Alcohol Studies think tank, and Emily Robinson, director of campaigns at charity Alcohol Concern, told the Observer the problem needs to be tackled at the source, by looking at the easy availability of cheap alcohol.

Published: Sunday 28th December 2014 by The News Editor

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