ACCIDENT AND EMERGENCY VISITS TRIPLE
Jul 30, 2007 by Andrew Hull
Is The New Law To Blame?
Researchers say that the introduction of 24 hour drinking laws may have tripled alcohol related admissions to A&E departments in inner city areas at night.
A study at London's St. Thomas' Hospital compared overnight visits before and after the 2005 law change and found that that whereas there were eighty alcohol related visits in March 2005 there were two hundred and fifty in 2006.
Although critics of the research say that data from one hospital cannot be applied to the whole of England and Wales the authors of the research claim that their study is representative of the problems in inner city areas across the country.
The researchers say that, “If reproduced over longer time periods and across the U.K. as a whole, the additional numbers of patients presenting themselves at emergency care could be very substantial” and added, “the figures indicate that the legislation has had the opposite effect to that intended".
Who Was Right?
Those that were opposed to the November 2005 Licensing Act argued that it would increase drink related problems such as violence and illness but evidence before this study suggested that there had been little or no change and in some cases even a reduction.
As recently as November 2006 which was one year on from the act several NHS trusts reported that they had yet to see any adverse changes.
At the same time two other studies suggested that in some areas the level of violence had actually decreased which had in turn led to a fall in people arriving at A&E with alcohol related assault injuries.
The researchers accept that one of the reasons for the apparent increase could be the increased awareness amongst A&E doctors about alcohol related problems which came about because of the Licensing Act and its potential implications.
The authors of the report said, “It was always unlikely that a change in opening hours alone was going to move us to a continental style of drinking”.
Both the ‘Department of Health’ and the ‘Department of Culture Media and Sport’, which backed the legislation were dismissive of the findings noting that the study only related to one hospital in one particular month and the ‘The British Beer and Pub Association’ stressed that alcohol sales across the country fell in 2006 and that the volume sold specifically through pubs and bars fell by more than 2% !!!