Paramedics 'treating 60 very drunk patients each day'

Ambulance staff with patient

Ambulances attend more than 60 incidents on average every day where a patient is so drunk that it has to be formally noted by crews.

Paramedics treated about 12,000 people who were so drunk it was noted on Scottish Ambulance Service systems in the six months to the end of September.

The figures were obtained by the Scottish Conservatives under freedom of information laws.

The ambulance service said alcohol had a significant impact on its operations.

It comes after a recent internal Scottish Ambulance Service survey showed alcohol was a factor in more than half of all call-outs ambulance staff dealt with at weekends.

The latest figures showed Scotland's largest health board, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, had the highest number of alcohol-related 999 call-outs in the six month period at 3,849. It was followed by NHS Lothian, with 1,935, and NHS Lanarkshire, with 1,470.

Tory health spokesman Jackson Carlaw said the statistics highlighted how "deep-rooted and complex" a problem alcohol is in Scottish society.

He said: "Not only is it harming those who are over-consuming, but it is diverting scarce resources away from those whose need was not so avoidable.

"Of course the Scottish government and NHS can always do more to discourage reckless patterns of drinking and provide more help for paramedics who have to repeatedly go into these challenging situations - often several times each shift.

"But ultimately this is a case of personal responsibility, and that's where the real change has to come from."

A Scottish Ambulance Service spokesman said its teams had to respond to an increase in demand over the festive period, which was largely driven by alcohol.

'Key factor'

He added: "They are highly trained professionals who are frustrated by the amount of time they spend looking after patients who are simply intoxicated.

"Our staff should not have to fear for their own safety when responding to patients but alcohol is often a key factor in assaults.

"Assaults or threatening behaviour are reported to the police and support and counselling services are available to staff."

Public Health Minister Maureen Watt said a recent four nations report found that Scotland was leading the way in the UK in taking action to tackle alcohol misuse.

She added: "However, the harmful effects of excessive alcohol consumption puts additional pressure on these services, and this is another reason why everyone should drink responsibly and keep safe."