Will your next night out end in a ‘booze tank’?

Most students have experienced it. Having that little bit too much to drink, you start to stumble and stagger, trying to find friends which have long disappeared. Then you try to make your way home, only to wake up in A&E…

Well, this scenario may be about to become a thing of the past, as the NHS trial a new scheme, centred on ‘booze tanks’. The introduction of these tanks means that potentially dangerous situations for the overly-drunk are seriously diminished.

Instead of clogging up A&E waiting rooms with drunken patients, booze tanks take the strain off hospitals and provide a safe environment, monitored by qualified paramedics, for those who have had too much to drink.

The scheme was being piloted in London over Christmas and the New Year, which is the time of year when hospitals see the results of heavy drinking the most. Booze tanks offer drinkers a bed to sleep-off the effects of alcohol whilst being closely monitored by the paramedics on-hand with equipment should it be needed.

There are also wake-ups every 30 minutes to make sure that the patient is conscious and alert.


High numbers of patients in A&E as a result of binge drinking has lead to the introduction of booze tanks. Photo: Canadian Veggie

In 2010, a report published by the NHS concluded that between the hours of 12 midnight and 5am, 70% of attendances are alcohol-related and that around one in 16 of all hospital admissions are for alcohol-related causes.

It is because of these alarming figures that the scheme is being piloted, although it must be made clear that the NHS is not condoning the over-use of alcohol as Daniel Astaire, Westminster Council’s cabinet member for society, families and adult services points out:

“In providing this facility in no way are we condoning drinking to excess but we want to free up space in accident and emergency units for those who genuinely need them.”

The booze tanks seem to be a step forward in combating the heavy drinking reputation Britain has gained, however, only time will tell if this plan sobers up the streets, or only encourages heavy drinkers to drink more, with the knowledge that there is a safe haven waiting at the end of the night.

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