THE World Cup might be the most anticipated event in the football calendar, but it has become one of the most dreaded in the Great Western Hospital’s accident and emergency department.
The GWH is bracing itself for a spike in the number of people admitted due to heavy drinking.
A total of 3,510 people under the influence of alcohol attended A&E in 2012-2013 in Swindon according to the latest figures from the Health and Social Care Centre Information Centre – 2,150 men and 1,360 women.
And the figures are expected to rocket this year due to the football, threatening to place unprecedented pressure on staff and take valuable time away from other patients.
Drastic calls for drunks to be banned from A&E at a Royal College of Nursing conference may be a step too far, but the GWH, council and clinical commissioning group are urging people to enjoy alcohol in moderation and think about the impact of binge drinking not only on their health but on others.
Cherry Jones, acting director of public health at Swindon Council, said: “Working closely with our partners including Wiltshire Police and Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, we’re urging everyone to play it safe and drink responsibly during the World Cup. Excessive alcohol consumption places an additional strain on all healthcare services, for example the ambulance service, the emergency department and walk-in clinics.
“We want football fans to enjoy the games, perhaps with a drink or two, but not to spoil the experience for themselves and others.”
While some people admitted need to have their stomachs pumped, others attend A&E as a result of an injury directly caused by their inebriated state or liver infections.
Additional paramedics were on call to deal with demand on the emergency services on Saturday, when England played Italy, but in the coming weeks health chiefs are hoping reason will prevail among the community and that extra manpower will not be necessary.
“Whilst additional first aid and paramedic resources were on hand in the town centre for the England game on Saturday night, due to the match timing along with the growing trend of staying in and drinking at home rather than going out, it was a relatively normal Saturday night in town, but an extremely busy one for staff at the hospital,” she added.
“Binge drinking not only poses health and safety risks for the individual, but also has a negative impact on the wider community.”