Alcohol-related calls to under 18s stand at 50 a week

The Service's alternative response vehicle or 'booze bus'Every week 50 children in the capital need an ambulance because they’ve drunk too much alcohol, according to figures released by the London Ambulance Service.

Last year the Service received 2,625 alcohol-related 999 calls from youngsters under the age of 18 – the legal age to drink alcohol in the UK.

The busiest borough for alcohol-related calls to under 18s was Richmond, where five per cent of all calls for children aged up to 17 years were down to alcohol. The second busiest area was Westminster, closely followed by Kensington & Chelsea.

Deputy Director of Operations Jason Killens said: “Every time we send an ambulance to somebody who dials 999 because they’re drunk, it means we can’t send that ambulance to somebody with a life-threatening condition or illness.

“Obviously if you’re under 18 and you’re drinking you’re breaking the law, but we know it happens. I’d just urge young people who are drinking to be sensible, to stick with their friends, and make sure they know how they’re getting home.

“Youngsters need to make sure they don’t end up calling us which could take an ambulance away from somebody who really needs one. There are always other options such as local walk-in centres or you could even make your own way to A&E – arriving in an ambulance doesn’t mean you’ll get seen any quicker.”

To help deal with alcohol-related calls, the Service runs dedicated response vehicles, dubbed ‘booze buses’, in Camden and central London every weekend. These specially equipped vehicles can carry up to five patients, meaning frontline ambulances can be saved for people with life-threatening conditions or illnesses.

And all Londoners are asked to consider other options before dialling 999 such as visiting a walk-in centre, GP or local pharmacist or calling NHS Direct on 0845 46 47.

Facts and figures

  • Since the introduction of the new licensing laws in 2005, alcohol-related calls to all patients across London have gone up by 25.6 per cent, from 48,311 in 2004/05
  • Sunday morning between 1am and 2am is the time of highest demand for all alcohol-related incidents with over one in five (21.4 per cent) of all calls during this hour recorded as being directly alcohol-related.

Boroughs with the highest proportion of alcohol-related calls to under 18s

Primary care trust

Alcohol-related calls to under 18s

% of incidents involving under 18s that are alcohol-related

Richmond

87

5.0

Westminster

133

4.2

Kensington and Chelsea

60

4.0

Kingston

59

3.9

Camden

106

3.6

– Ends –

Notes to editors

  • For further information about the London Ambulance Service or this news release please contact the communications department on 020 7783 2286
  • For more information about how we are dealing with alcohol-related calls please visit www.londonambulance.nhs.uk/alcohol
  • Follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ldn_ambulance