14 Aug 2012
Ambulances are forced to attend thousands of incidents every month across Scotland where alcohol has been cited as the main cause.
Figures obtained by the Scottish Conservatives have revealed the number of incidents is increasing each year, placing a huge strain on the Scottish Ambulance Service.
Incidents are particularly commonplace at the weekends in Scotland, with ambulance audits estimating around two-thirds of life-threatening 999 calls can be blamed, in some part, on alcohol.
Paramedics do not routinely record whether or not alcohol has been a factor in a call-out, but are urged to mention it if drink has played an obvious role in an incident.
Last year there were 27,281 cases where alcohol was noted on a case file following a call-out, compared to 26,241 in 2010/11 and 22,571 the year before that.
That makes a total of 76,093 over the past three years.
The Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board area had the most call-outs last year, with more than 9,000, while other boards with large cities also featured highly.
The statistics, obtained through Freedom of Information, come months after the Scottish Conservatives revealed there are almost 500 homes in Scotland where ambulances are not allowed to enter without police protection, however acute the emergency, because of threats to their safety.
Despite this rise, the SNP has claimed recorded crime is at its lowest in more than 30 years.
It is hoped the Scottish Conservative-backed minimum alcohol pricing will help reduce this particular problem.
Scottish Conservative health spokesman Jackson Carlaw MSP said:
“Ambulance workers face a tough enough job without alcohol being thrown in the mix as such an unnecessary ingredient.
“This poses huge challenges not only from a health point of view, but also a law and order one.
“Whether it is someone who has consumed too much meaning their stomach has to be pumped, or a violent clash ignited by a drinking binge, these are all avoidable incidents.
“We need get a handle on alcohol-related disorder, because people will look at these worsening statistics and not accept that crime is at its lowest in three decades.
“And given paramedics only record alcohol as a factor if they have time and if it is an overwhelming factor, the true picture is surely far graver than this.
“Hopefully when alcohol minimum pricing is brought in we can see a change in these kinds of statistics.”