SELKIRK had more alcohol-related attendances at Borders General Hospital than any other area of the region over a five-month period, a ground-breaking report has revealed.
Drink played a factor in 35 Souters being admitted to the hospital’s accident and emergency department between June and October last year.
The figure is included in the first Scottish Borders Alcohol Profile which has studied the effect alcohol has on the region’s front-line services.
The report also shows almost one-in-five antisocial behaviour (ASB) incidents in the Royal Burgh involved booze from April 2010 to August 2012 – a total of 371.
There are 27 licensed premises in the town, which includes pubs, hotels, members’ clubs and off-licences.
The document’s findings will be presented to Scottish Borders Licensing Board today.
Selkirkshire councillor Michelle Ballantyne, convenor of Scottish Borders Council’s local licensing forum, which advises the licensing board, added: “Alcohol will always be a part of our society and the real challenge we face is to ensure that its positive contribution outweighs its potential harm.
“We know that the solution to tackling alcohol-related harm doesn’t rest with one individual, one organisation or indeed one approach.
“The objective therefore in developing this profile was simple. We wanted to provide Scottish Borders Licensing Board with evidence-based data on the impact that alcohol has on our front-line services.” For Ettrick, Yarrow and Yair, there were 51 alcohol-related ASB incidents – representing 12 per cent of all reports – while there were nine attendances to the A&E department of the BGH from the Valleys.
Among the most startling statistics in the profile include alcohol playing a role in three murders in 2011, as well as one death in a fire in 2011/12.
It also highlighted that drink costs the Borders more than £30million per year, including £10.6million in dealing with alcohol-related crime and £4.3million in health spending.
Similar alcohol reports have been produced for West Dunbartonshire and Edinburgh, but neither included admission numbers to hospital emergency departments.
Inspector John Scott, who advises the licensing board, told The Wee Paper: “If you look at the times of the day, from Friday teatime onwards, there is a rise in admissions to A&E. When someone is admitted to hospital because of an alcohol-related issue, that takes up a lot of resources. That means someone who is acutely ill may not be able to get in the hospital door.”
In terms of the wider impact on front-line services, the inspector told us: “If we have an alcohol-related call-out to a house, it is not just the impact on the people involved and neighbours, it is also the effect on the emergency services.
“If the police are attending that issue, they can’t be dealing with other incidents in the area. The police do have additional resources at weekends to deal with the extra work, but quite often those resources are stretched simply because we are dealing with alcohol. The golden thread between all police incidents is alcohol.”
The profile was led by Susan Walker, of the Alcohol and Drugs Partnership ,and, if accepted, will be used by the licensing board as evidence when considering applications by pubs, clubs and shops.