Alcohol linked to A&E cases

MORE than half of attacks that lead to victims needing emergency treatment involve alcohol, a new study has found.

Research found that 56 per cent of assaults that have seen victims attending the A&E department at the University Hospital of Hartlepool are alcohol-related.

The study, commissioned by Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, also found that 19 per cent of assaults were not reported to police and 22 per cent of domestic assaults which attend A&E are also not reported.

The study saw A&E staff gather information from people who have been involved in alcohol-related assaults to establish the impact of drinking in HartlepoolStaff have been recording where and when an incident took place and whether a weapon was used as part of the ongoing regional information sharing project.

The information has now been shared with the Safer Hartlepool Partnership to help reduce alcohol-related violence and reduce A&E admissions.

The study has also highlighted the strong link between domestic violence and alcohol in Hartlepool and staff in A&E are working closely with the local domestic violence service Harbour to provide advice and support for victims.

The North-East is the first area in the UK to implement the project region-wide, which is led by Balance and local community safety partnerships including Safer Stockton Partnership and Safer Hartlepool Partnership, which involve local authorities, the police, the health service and other key agencies.

Sue Taylor, partnerships manager at Balance, said: “These findings highlight the fact that excess alcohol consumption fuels violent crime, increasing the likelihood that North Easterners will be involved in an assault – either as the perpetrator or the victim.

“The widespread availability and affordability of alcohol is to blame – and we need to address these issues to reduce ‘second hand harm’ caused by alcohol misuse.

“A big problem we face is pre-loading – or drinking copious amounts of alcohol to prepare for a night out. People are hitting our towns and cities already drunk – and some are ready to fight.

“This is putting an unnecessary burden on our A&E departments, but by collecting and sharing assault data, the NHS is playing a really important role in tackling alcohol-related violence at its source.”

Sally Forth, community safety manager at Safer Hartlepool Partnership, said: “Tackling alcohol misuse and its links to violence and domestic abuse is a priority for the Safer Hartlepool Partnership.

“The provision of A&E data has helped the partnership gain a better understanding of these problems, helping us to inform our actions.”