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Research evaluating whether bespoke treatment services for drunk revellers reduce burden on A&E due to publish next year


An NIHR-funded study assessing whether bespoke treatment services are an effective way of treating people with acute alcohol intoxication and if they can lessen the burden on A&E departments is due to publish its results in 2019.

The EDARA study (An Evaluation of Alcohol Treatment Centres: Implications for Service Delivery, Patient Benefit and Harm Reduction) is funded by the NIHR’s Health Services and Delivery Research (HS&DR) Programme and is being led by researchers at Cardiff and Sheffield universities.

Alcohol Intoxication Management Services (AIMS) are supervised areas where people who have over-indulged can be checked over and even sleep it off, rather than being taken to casualty or monitored by the police.

They are already used in some areas including Newcastle, Exeter, Hereford, Norwich and Blackpool.

Today, NHS England has also announced it is providing £300,000 for bespoke treatment services to help revellers with acute alcohol intoxication over Christmas and New Year in a bid to take pressure off hospital and 999 services over the festive period.

But the EDARA study will provide evidence for NHS England to decide whether the services are supported on a more routine basis.

An estimated 12% to15% of attendances at emergency departments in the UK are due to acute alcohol intoxication. This peaks on Friday and Saturday evenings when as many as 70% of attendances can be alcohol related.

The NHS England funding was announced today on so-called Black Friday, the last Friday before Christmas when many workers attend office parties ahead of breaking up from work for the festive season.

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said: “I have seen first-hand while out with ambulance crews in the run-up to last Christmas the problems that drunk and often aggressive people cause paramedics and A&E staff who just want to help those who need it most.

“NHS does not stand for ‘National Hangover Service’ which is why we want to help other organisations take care of those who just need somewhere safe to get checked over and perhaps sleep it off.”

Currently five ambulance trusts in the North East, East Midlands, South Central, West Midlands and North West have applied for funding. Each ambulance service is proposing to use the extra funding to cover various additional locations and enhanced hours within their regions.

There have been a number of schemes used around the UK to help deal with alcohol related attendances. They range from council funded ‘Safe Havens’ to ‘Booze Buses’.

One of the first programmes to benefit from NHS England funding will be Soho Angels scheme in London, where Westminster City Council and the LGBT Foundation are partnering to ensure that everyone gets home safe from the West End this festive season. St John Ambulance, Drinkaware, Metropolitan Police, London Ambulance Service and Safer West End are all partnering with the initiative to help deliver the project.

More information on the EDARA study is available on the NIHR Journals Library website.