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Don’t ‘go mad’ this Friday!

Ambulance Appeal for Responsible Drinking Over the Festive Period

30% increase in calls expected on busiest Friday in December

With the festive party season well underway in the lead-up to Christmas and the New Year, Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust is urging those out celebrating to drink responsibly and only call for an ambulance in the event of a serious or life-threatening emergency.

Alcohol continues to be one of the leading causes of accidents in the UK and this problem intensifies during the festive season when the enjoyment of an alcoholic drink often plays a central part of many celebrations and social gatherings. 

With more people out and about with colleagues, friends and family, the ambulance service is reminding people to think about the consequences of drinking to excess and to drink sensibly to keep themselves, and others, safe and well.

The Trust sees a big increase in calls on the last Friday before Christmas, affectionately known as ‘Mad Friday’ by those who choose to celebrate on this day every year.

Calls to the Trust’s 999 Emergency Operations Centre rose by 30% between 6pm and 6am on the last Friday before Christmas last year, equating to over 260 additional calls, with a similar jump in calls expected during this year’s festivities.

Dr Julian Mark, the Trust’s Executive Medical Director, said: “The high number of calls we receive in the run up to Christmas and the New Year, particularly on the last Friday before Christmas Day and on New Year’s Eve itself, puts the service under significant pressure and makes it more difficult for us to ensure we can respond to all of our patients quickly.

“Our emergency ambulances are a lifeline in a genuine life-threatening emergency such as a heart attack or stroke, but our staff are often involved in looking after people who have drunk excessively or have sustained alcohol-fuelled injuries which could have been avoided.

“We’re certainly not trying to stop people enjoying a night out, but ask that they drink sensibly to avoid the need to call 999 and keep ambulances available for those with a genuine need.

“Please leave your car at home, use public transport or arrange alternative transport such as a taxi. If you go to a party and know you're going to be driving the next day know your limits and drink within the daily guidelines1.  You can opt for lower strength drinks and drink singles rather than doubles when drinking spirits.  It’s also a good idea to alternate the alcoholic drinks you do have with soft drinks or water and stop drinking alcohol well before the end of the night so your body has time to process the alcohol before the following morning.”

Over Christmas and on New Year’s Eve the ambulance service is running various initiatives across the county to ensure people with alcohol-related illnesses and injuries don’t place too much pressure on the service and on emergency departments in hospitals across Yorkshire. This includes establishing static medical units and using police and paramedic teams in busy city centres across the region.

Yorkshire Ambulance Service is also reminding people who require treatment or advice for a minor illness or injury to consider other more appropriate healthcare services available to them such as self-care, pharmacists, GP surgeries, urgent care centres or NHS 111 and only to call 999 when someone is in need of time-critical life-saving help. 

Details on where to find the most appropriate help can be found on the Trust’s website: http://www.yas.nhs.uk/Calling999/Choose_Well.html


Notes to Editor:
1. People should not regularly exceed their recommended daily amounts of alcohol, which is three to four units for a man and two to three units for a woman. To put that into real terms a pint of 4% lager contains 2.3 units as does a 175ml glass of 13% wine.

2. Examples of when you should call 999 for an ambulance: chest pain, difficulty in   breathing, loss of consciousness, heavy loss of blood, severe burns and scalds, choking, fitting/convulsions, drowning, severe allergic reaction and head injury.  Please note: This is not an exhaustive list.

3. There is a variety of healthcare services available:

  • Self-care - A range of common illnesses and injuries can be treated at home by combining a well-stocked medicine cabinet with plenty of rest. This is the best choice for very minor illnesses and injuries.
  • NHS 111 - NHS 111 provides confidential health advice and information, 24 hours a day.
  • Pharmacist - Your local pharmacist can give you advice on illnesses and the medicines you need to treat them. Visit a pharmacist when you are suffering from a common health problem which does not require being seen by a nurse or doctor.
  • GP - GP surgeries provide a range of services by appointment, including medical advice, examinations, and prescriptions. In an emergency, a GP can also visit your home outside of opening hours by contacting your local surgery and following the recorded instructions.
  • NHS walk-in centre, urgent care centre, or minor injuries unit - You do not need an appointment and you will be seen by an experienced nurse or GP. These services give healthcare and advice and most are open from early in the morning until late at night. Visit one of these centres if you need medical treatment or advice which does not need a visit to A&E or a medical appointment.
  • A&E or 999 - A&E or 999 should only be used in a critical or life-threatening situation when someone is seriously ill or injured.

4. Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust covers almost 6,000 square miles of varied terrain from isolated moors and dales to urban areas, coastline and inner cities and provides 24-hour emergency and healthcare services to a population of more than five million people. The organisation receives an average of 2,180 emergency and urgent calls per day and employs over 4,600 staff.

Produced By: Corporate Communications Department