Alcoholism & Addiction

Most Weekend Ambulance Calls in Scotland Are Alcohol-Related

The majority of weekend ambulance calls in Scotland are alcohol-related, BBC Scotland revealed. Ambulance Service figures released to the BBC suggested that 68 percent of weekend calls list alcohol as a major cause. The Scottish Ambulance Service said these types of calls were delaying its response to real emergencies.

Scottish Labour called for a "national consensus" to tackle alcohol abuse, but a Scottish National Party (SNP) member of the Scottish Parliament (SMP) said ministers had already proposed radical action on the issue.

The Scottish Ambulance Service figures were compiled from records kept by ambulance crews over each weekend since April 2009. The statistics specifically referred to Fridays, Saturdays, and the early hours of each Sunday.

Anne McLaughlin, an MSP for Glasgow, who recently joined an ambulance crew in Glasgow on a Saturday night, said the figures matched what she had seen.

"Spending the night working with Glasgow’s paramedics showed me how much of their time is spent dealing with the impact of alcohol," she said.

"Whether it is people hurting themselves in drink-related accidents, ending up so drunk they need hospitalization, or the end result of alcohol-induced violence, all the cases we saw on a Saturday night shift involved alcohol.”

"I want our emergency services to be dealing with people who really need them, not having to spend all their time mopping up the damage caused by alcohol," she continued.

She praised the Scottish government’s proposals—which include introducing a minimum price for alcohol—but called on all individuals "to think about what we’re drinking and the effect that has on ourselves and public services."

Scottish Labour’s health spokeswoman Cathy Jamieson said the next stage of Scotland’s alcohol strategy must include action to tackle anti-social behavior and violence.

She called for a package of measures including a mandatory “Challenge 21” scheme to stop children from obtaining alcohol, alcohol treatment and testing orders to tackle problem drinking, and more resources for police to enforce the Licensing Act.

Jamieson described Scotland’s hard-drinking culture as "a national disgrace." "This situation cannot be allowed to continue because if ambulance crews are attending to drunks they may not be available for a genuine emergency," she said.

"This is just one of the reasons we need a national consensus to tackle alcohol abuse.”

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