Turning drunk patients away isn’t the answer

The number of drunk patients admitted to A&E is on the rise. (Source: Denise Mattox via flickr)

By Sanjukta Nathan

Drinking is a common activity enjoyed by a lot of people in the present day. It is especially prevalent among young people across the world. However, drinking has many ill-effects and most of them are in some way or other related to our health.

Recently retired surgeon Gautam Das, who has been working with the NHS UK for nearly 26 years, shared his views on drunk patients. Speaking to the Daily Mirror, Dr. Das expressed his displeasure towards drunk patients describing them as “wasting precious NHS time”. He said that he felt it was more important to treat individuals coming to the hospital with a heart problem rather than a drunk ‘idiot’ who would drop in after a tussle.

This is not the first time that the NHS UK has expressed its displeasure in treating drunk patients. In 2014 Northern Ireland’s Health Minister Edwin Poots proposed charging drunk patients walking into A&E. According to NHS the attendance of drunk patients, who were either comatose or the ones with injuries on the head, ankle etc., was increasing rapidly increasing causing the health ministry to propose this change. Nearly 2 million people using A&E services have been drunk patients.

However, to wave away such patients is not the ideal solution to the problem. According to Jason Sarfo-Annin of NHS UK, the idea of charging drunk patients or to deprive them of treatment because they were less ‘deserving’ was unethical as the individual who is under the influence of alcohol is equally vulnerable as any individual who tried to commit suicide or someone battling a chronic lung disease due to years of smoking.

The problem is rooted deeper into the drinking culture of Britain. According to various researchers, drinking in Britain has been on the rise since the end of the Second World War. This culture has passed down through the generations and has now turned into a necessity for British society or any society for that matter.

Therefore, in order to reduce the amount of drunk patients, it is vital that the government invest in health campaigns and rehabilitation to dissuade people from drinking too much and spread awareness on the health implications of excessive drinking. This is the only effective way to combat the rising trend of drunk patients in the UK rather than discriminating and depriving individuals based on their drinking habits.