Problem Drinkers: The Scourge of A&E Departments UK-wide

CASE STUDY: Margaret in Bristol
Do you hate your job? Margaret does. She’s a nurse working in the Accident and Emergency Department of a Bristol hospital, and she detests the place. Why? Too many drunks. WAY too many.

“The Department is a 24/7 service. It used to be the best place to work in the hospital. I worked on the Children’s Ward for over a decade, and I really thought that nothing could beat that. But when I moved to A&E years ago, I found it an even better place to work, as strange as that may sound. Not now though. A&E has changed. Britain has changed. Alcohol abuse has risen to almost epidemic proportions. And people are so much more dangerous now.”

“My mother used to always say: “You never know what a nutter is going to do”, but now I would say that about alcohol abusers. The heavy drinkers we see here night after night seem capable of anything, to be quite honest. And that’s why I’ve decided to retire early, to get away from these people, before something horrendous happens to me.”

Alcoholism in the UK – some (sobering) stats
According to Alcohol (a leading national charity working on alcoholism issues):

  • Alcohol is a causal factor in more than 60 medical conditions, including: mouth, throat, stomach, liver and breast cancers; high blood pressure; and cirrhosis of the liver
  • Alcohol misuse costs the UK approximately £21bn per year in healthcare, crime and lost productivity costs
  • There were 1.2 million alcohol-related hospital admissions in the UK in 2011/12, a 135 per cent increase since 2002/03
  • Hospital admissions for people under 30 with alcohol-related liver disease have increased (over the past decade) by 117 per cent. In the North East of England the increase is 400 per cent!
  • The number of older people between the ages of 60 and 74 admitted to hospitals with mental and behavioural disorders associated with alcohol abuse has risen by over 50 per cent since 2003

And incredibly:
Almost two million visits to A&E (in 2012) were due to alcohol-related illness and injury. Researchers say that at least one-in-three patients seen in emergency departments because of drink then have to be admitted to hospital for further treatment

Sources: a) Alcohol, b) Daily Mail online

“At A&E, drunks are increasingly being seen first.”

“What infuriates me most,” Margaret says, “is that in many A&E departments in hospitals across Britain, staff are told to deal with rowdy drinkers first, even if other people have been patiently waiting for ages for their name to be called.”

“I mean, I can see the thinking behind the policy: deal with the drinkers and either admit them or send them away (having treated their injuries) as quickly as possible, in case they grow even more aggressive and attack staff or non-staff; but the whole situation is so unbelievably unfair.”

“At one A&E department in the North West, a woman who had come in complaining of a severe headache actually died of a brain haemorrhage in the waiting room, all because she was made to wait for four hours to be seen while A&E nurses and doctors dealt with a stream of aggressive drinkers first.”

Don’t go to A&E, GO TO REHAB
If you are addicted to alcohol, and you’re serious about trying to beat your addiction, your best bet is to seek the help of professional counsellors and clinicians at a private Rehab clinic.

Note: Some people opt for the nearest clinic to them (in their region), while others prefer to go further afield. Rehab Treatment UK can assist with admission into private clinics across England and Scotland.

It is important to point out that not everyone seeking help for their alcohol abuse necessarily wants to quit drinking altogether. Some patients (would-be moderate/social drinkers) in Rehab treatment are looking to considerably reduce their regular alcohol consumption to a sensible level*.

* According to Government guidelines, the current recommended limits are 21 units of alcohol a week for men, and 14 units a week for women. A unit is roughly half-a-pint of beer or cider, a small glass of wine, or a single pub measure of spirits.


Note: All names have been changed


I could not stop drinking, having tried various methods. After making contact with Rehab Treatment UK I was put at ease immediately. All my options were carefully explained and 2 days later admitted to Rehab. Without the speedy response I would probably still be drinking today, Already, the home is a happier place. Thank you Jane for starting the process for a life of sobriety.
B. Middlesex

Thank you to Rehab Treatment UK and everyone at the Clinic that was involved in my Detox. It has been hard, but the fun everyone has made it, helped to make it easier.
S. Hull