"Sobering centres and booze buses," says London Assembly member after £250k bill

Wasting money: London Ambulance Service

Wasting money: London Ambulance Service

First published in News Wandsworth Guardian: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

Binge drinkers in Wandsworth are costing ambulances £254,000 a year.

Latest figures show London Ambulance Service responded to 1,096 alcohol-related call-outs in 2012 to 2013.

Admissions relating to alcohol in London’s hospitals have tripled in the past decade and the capital spends at least £45m a year on drunks needing treatment.

Conservative London Assembly member for Wandsworth and Merton, Richard Tracey, said: "Many people like a tipple but our public services should not be catering for bingers who can’t handle their drink.

Our ambulances, prison cells and A&Es are designed for medical emergencies or dangerous criminals, yet we are seeing London’s drunks hogging these services, costing the capital millions of pounds.

"We need to deal with drunks in a more appropriate way.

"Purpose-built sobering centres and booze buses, manned by nurses, can provide low level treatment such as blood pressure and blood sugar checks as well as a bed for the night.

"This will deliver significant savings by freeing up prison cells and emergency rooms for London’s real problems."

He said deterring drunken behaviour could be achieved by doubling fines for drunkenness to £180, with the cash raised invested into support services for alcohol abuse.

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