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Ambulance crews gear up for Christmas party weekend and urge revellers to ‘eat, pace and plan’ for big night out

Ambulance crews and control room staff are expecting a surge in alcohol related incidents this Friday (20 December) as office staff and revellers head out for Christmas celebrations with colleagues and friends.

Mad Friday 1On the same Friday night last year, London Ambulance Service responded to 36 per cent more alcohol related incidents – 239 compared to the 2018 daily average of 175. It responded to 736 alcohol related incidents over the weekend evenings preceding Christmas.

While alcohol accounts for a relatively small percentage of overall incidents – 6 per cent in December 2018 – most are entirely avoidable at a time when emergency departments at London’s hospitals are extremely busy. During peak times this weekend, the Service could respond to as many as 30 alcohol related calls an hour – one every two minutes.

Every ambulance responding to someone who has drunk too much and needs medical assistance is an ambulance that becomes unavailable for someone else who may be seriously injured.

The London Ambulance Service is supporting the City of London Corporation’s ‘Eat, Pace, Plan’ campaign which recommends simple measures to stay safe and help reduce the burden on the emergency services caused by heavy drinking.

Chief Operating Officer Khadir Meer said: “We have a simple message for Londoners: have a great time, but take care and look out for one another.

“Patients who have collapsed or are unconscious through alcohol get a priority response but these incidents are almost entirely avoidable. Londoners can help us ensure we can reach the most critically ill patients quickly.

“Make sure you eat a meal before going out – it helps slow the absorption of alcohol. Second, consider pacing yourself with a soft drink or water between alcoholic drinks. Finally, plan your journey home or book a minicab to ensure you get home safely.”

Top tips for a safe night out:

  • Eat before drinking: Make sure you eat before you start your night. It can provide more energy, slow the absorption of alcohol, and you will feel better the next day.
  • Try pacing and spacing: Having a soft drink or some water between alcohol drinks slows the rate of your drinking.
  • Keep tabs on your bar tab: The ‘One You’ Drinks Tracker app will help you keep track of how much you are drinking and spending.
  • Look after each other: Watch out friends and colleagues to ensure everyone gets home safely.
  • Plan your journey home: Put some thought into how you will get home before you start drinking.
  • Check when your last train is or pre-book your taxi. Don’t leave it to chance.


Notes to editors

  1. On Friday 21 December 2018, the Service responded to 239 alcohol related incidents.
  2. On Saturday 22 2018, the Service responded to 276 alcohol related incidents.
  3. On Sunday 23 2018, the Service responded to 221 alcohol related incidents.
  4. In total over the weekend preceding Christmas in 2018, London Ambulance Service responded to 736 alcohol related incidents – around ten an hour over 72 hours.
  5. The busiest hours for alcohol related incidents during that weekend in December 2018 were on Friday 21st between 10pm and 11pm – 26 incidents- and a few hours later in the early hours of Saturday 22nd – also 26 incidents.
  6. In the 12 hours from 6pm on New Year’s Eve 2018, London Ambulance Service responded to 397 alcohol-related incidents.
  7. More information about the Eat, Pace, Plan campaign can be found throughout December on Twitter via hashtags #EatPacePlan and #NoRegrets or on the City of London Corporation website here.
  8. For more information or to discuss interviews, please call the communications team on 020 7783 2286.
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