Summer drinkers caused more 999 callouts than Christmas partygoers

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Londoners who drink to excess during the summer are responsible for more ambulance calls than Christmas revellers, it was revealed today.

London Ambulance Service said it responded to 6,653 alcohol-related incidents last August, compared with 5,938 in December, as it launched its first summer sensible drinking campaign.

The service, which is under unprecedented pressure due to a “significant” annual increase in the most serious medical emergencies, wants people to take responsibility for getting their friends home rather than relying on emergency crews.

It released a promotional video — Not An Ambulance — to underline the message. It shows a young man drunk on the pavement after over-indulging in a pub, with the message: “He needs his friends, not an ambulance.”

LAS medical director Dr Fenella Wrigley said: “A lot of the people our control room and ambulance crews respond to on Friday and Saturday nights don’t need an ambulance — they need a friend to take responsibility to get them home safely and look after them.

“While we’re treating patients who have had too much to drink, others, who are potentially seriously ill or injured, could be waiting for help. Our message is simple — look after your friends, and make sure they get home safely, rather than ending their night in the back of an ambulance.”

Central London boroughs had the highest number of alcohol-related emergency calls last year, with the two West End boroughs, Westminster and Camden, at the top, with 4,830 and 3,427 incidents respectively.

A quarter of all calls are received between midnight and 6am on Saturday and Sunday mornings. The LAS has missed the NHS target of attending 75 per cent of the most serious 999 calls within eight minutes for more than two years. 

However its performance has been improving and has ranked as either the best or second best in the country — while coping with major incidents such as the Grenfell Tower fire, the London Bridge attack and the June heatwave that resulted in the third busiest day in its history, with 1,871 highest-priority calls on June 19. Summer drinkers  were advised to eat before consuming alcohol, to try “pacing and spacing” by drinking water between alcoholic drinks and to plan their journey home.

Dr Wrigley said: “Drinking too much puts people in a vulnerable situation. If you cannot look after yourself you risk injury. You also risk losing your phone and keys. We’re asking people to drink responsibly and if their friends do drink too much and need help, look after them so they don’t end up alone, vulnerable and in need of an ambulance.”

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