Ambulance chiefs’ concern as alcohol-related 999 calls in Havering see ‘huge spike’

Havering has seen London's biggest increase in alcohol-related 999 calls

Havering has seen London's biggest increase in alcohol-related 999 calls - Credit: Archant

The number of 999 calls for patients in Havering who are “simply drunk” is rocketing, ambulance chiefs warn – even though the figure is dropping in the rest of London.

Latest figures show the number of emergency callouts in Havering where alcohol was judged to be a “major factor” soared from 978 in 2011 to 1,243 in 2012 - a 27 per cent increase.

It’s the third successive year the number has risen, despite a fall elsewhere in the capital.

Paul Gibson, London Ambulance Service’s ambulance operations manager for Havering, said: “This huge spike in alcohol-related 999 incidents in the borough is a real concern, especially when such calls continue to decrease in the rest of London.”

The year-on-year increase is the largest in the capital, with two thirds of boroughs seeing a drop and the rest reporting rises of no more than 10 per cent.

Mr Gibson added: “If our staff are dealing with patients who are simply drunk, they won’t be able to take care of patients with life-threatening emergencies – for example, people suffering a cardiac arrest or those with serious injuries.”

Alcohol-related 999 calls currently represent about four per cent of all emergency calls in the borough.

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Havering Council’s cabinet member for licensing, Cllr Geoff Starns, said: “We take alcohol-related incidents seriously in the borough.

“We provide training and guidance to licensees, and have schemes such as Pub Watch and Safe and Sound in which traders can raise issues.

“We also carry out test purchasing to ensure that alcohol is not sold to people who are underage.”

At the end of 2012, there were 568 licensed premises in the borough – compared with 545 two years before.