Paramedics in London are preparing for their busiest night ever – as the head of NHS England branded drunken revellers who call ambulances “selfish”.
Following the traditional fireworks celebration by the River Thames, the London Ambulance Service is predicting more than 3,500 call-outs.
Partygoers are being urged to only request their help if it is a genuine emergency.
“We’re busier than we have ever been anyway, up 10% year on year, but on New Year’s Eve the workload is even more intense,” said LAS spokesman Kevin Bate.
“There’s the general workload we always have, then add to that everything that 31 December generates and you have a spectacularly busy night.”
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It’s estimated that more than 40% of the call-outs made by ambulance crews in the first few hours of New Year’s Day will be alcohol-related.
Mr Bate added: “We always have a lot of public order issues because of the way people react to the amount of alcohol they have consumed.
“We are anticipating somewhere in the region of 3,500 call-outs and the majority of them will come between midnight and 6am on New Year’s Day.
“If you are unwell do not hesitate to call the emergency services, but if you are going to drink do not drink to excess and put yourself in a vulnerable position.
“We want our resources going to the right places and attending people who have drunk excessively means our crews may not be able to help emergencies elsewhere.”
LAS made its prediction for New Year’s Eve as the head of the National Health Service claimed it is being turned into the “National Hangover Service” because of the effect of binge drinking on its resources.
Simon Stevens told The Daily Telegraph: “At a time of year when hospitals are always under pressure, caring for a spike in winter emergencies, it’s really selfish to get so blotto that you end up in an ambulance or A&E.
“More than a third of A&E attendances at peak times are caused by drunkenness. Casualty nurses and doctors are understandably frustrated about the NHS being used as a national hangover service.
“In our towns and cities this Christmas and New Year, the paramedic called to a drunk partygoer passed out on the pavement is an ambulance crew obviously not then available for a genuine medical emergency.”