An Alcohol Treatment Centre (ATC) could be established in York City Centre at weekends to ease pressure off York Emergency Services.
A draft report by the City of York Council has recommended the foundation of a centre where people who have drunk too much may be safe and receive clinical care as an alternative to going to hospital. The proposed centre would be staffed by police, emergency care practitioners and volunteers from Street Angels.
Local organisations have welcomed the council’s proposal, including the Church-led volunteer group Street Angels. Street Angels station volunteers around York city centre at night to assist those who have had too much to drink, including giving flip-flops to young women walking bare-foot.
The organisation have identified several hazards for students which could be rectified by the establishment of a dedicated inebriation treatment facility; including drink spiking, excessive pre-drinking and broken glass on streets in the city centre.
A first year Social Policy student was cynical of the plans, saying “I’m not sure the creation of a medical centre is the right way to solve the problem of excessive drinking. If anything, creating a centre for severely inebriated people simply encourages heavy drinking because there is another place people can now go to when they’ve had one too many.”
According to the report, Street Angels also observed the risk to inebriated or vulnerable female students in the city centre “on occasions such as University Freshers’ Week,” there was “increased in the number of 30-40 year old men in the city centre.”
A second year Politics student supported the Council’s plans, saying “I think it will definitely make things safer for female students who have had one too many and are vulnerable. In freshers’ week making sure students get home safely is really important.”
Calls for a dedicated facility for the city’s revellers come as a result of research conducted by Council officials. Committee members noted a peak in violent crime and anti-social behaviour in the city centre in the evening and at night, particularly at weekends. Such incidents were over-burdening Emergency Department Services, especially between the peak hours of midnight-2am, the report found.
In a sample of a year’s audit period conducted by Committee members, it was found that 6 per cent of the total number of admittances to York Emergency Department during the day, and almost 20 per cent of those at night, were due to alcohol related incidents.
The findings of the report also indicated that the age distribution of those attending hospital whilst intoxicated spiked at the ages of 19-21, with the percentage of those under 30 being seen by emergency services amounting to 10.9 per cent of all attendances.
York Ambulance Services staff have seen a 28 per cent increase in demand for call-outs at weekends, “where alcohol is believed to have been a factor.” The report further stated, “Members recognised that an ambulance crew caught up dealing with an antisocial or alcohol-related incident that could have been avoided could be delayed from reaching someone with a more serious life-threatening condition such as a heart attack.”