Edinburgh MSP urges public to drink responsibly as ‘staggering’ figures show alcohol a factor in 90,000 ambulance call-outs

Liberal Democrat Alex Cole-Hamilton says NHS must not be ‘burdened by a cascade of drunken call-outs’.
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An Edinburgh MSP has urged the public to drink responsibly as shocking new figures show alcohol was a factor in nearly 90,000 ambulance call-outs across Scotland between 2016 and 2020.

Liberal Democrats health spokesman and Edinburgh Western MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton said the figures, shared by Health Secretary Jeane Freeman on Friday, highlight the need for Scots to be “responsible and respectful” as people start to socialise more with the easing of lockdown.

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In answer to a parliamentary question, Ms Freeman said alcohol was a factor in 89,265 call-outs over the period between 2016 and 2020.

Alex Cole-Hamilton says Scots need to drink responsibly to ease the burden on the NHS.Alex Cole-Hamilton says Scots need to drink responsibly to ease the burden on the NHS.
Alex Cole-Hamilton says Scots need to drink responsibly to ease the burden on the NHS.

There were 14,385 such cases in 2016 and 15,420 the following year.

Reporting methods changed in 2017, allowing ambulance crews to record alcohol as a factor in cases involving overdose, convulsions and drowning.

There were 31,009 call-outs involving alcohol in 2018 and 28,451 in 2019.

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In response to these new figures, Mr Cole-Hamilton said: “The number of ambulance call-outs that have been tied to alcohol consumption over the last few years is staggering.

“Vast resources and a lot of staff time is tied up in dealing with these incidents.

“Scots across the country will be delighted to have the opportunity to socialise more and to see their local pubs and restaurants open their doors once again.

“But as they do, everyone needs to act responsibly to avoid unnecessarily adding to the workload of staff who have worked so hard, protect the capacity of the health service and secure the progress we've made in stamping out the virus.

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“We owe wearied NHS workers unending thanks for the life-saving work they've carried out throughout the pandemic.

“These new figures show just how much of a burden alcohol is on their daily operations and emphasises once again the thanks we owe them.

“One of the ways we can show that thanks is by being responsible and respectful as we all socialise more and ensure they are not burdened by a cascade of drunken call-outs.”

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