NHS prepares for a busy night on “Mad Friday”

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Hospitals are gearing up for a busy night as people head out for Christmas drinks on “Mad Friday”.

Accident and emergency departments are preparing for an increase in admissions linked to heavy drinking on the last Friday before Christmas.

And people are being urged to stay safe to avoid an unnecessary trip to hospital.

Dr Sarah Robertshaw, head of clinical service emergency medicine at the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS trust, said: “The festive period, and in particular the Friday before Christmas, can see people drinking much more than usual.

“We don’t want to be killjoys and dampen the festive spirit but we do want people to remember their Christmas party for the right reason, and not because they ended the night in A&E. Alcohol-related injuries can stretch hard-pressed A&E departments to the limit.”

Drink sales often hit their annual peak on this day of the year. The Friday before Christmas last year saw alcohol takings rise in pubs, clubs, restaurants and hotels by 142 per cent - and that did not take into account drink bought from shops and supermarkets.

Dr Robertshaw said: “We would advise people to pace themselves and try to drink sensibly.

“Good tips are to make sure that you’ve had something to eat so that you’re not drinking on an empty stomach and have a non-alcoholic drink several times throughout the night.

“We would also advise people to take care of their friends and family who may have had too much to drink: help them to get home safely and avoid injuring themselves.”

Dr Robertshaw said people should also think carefully before going to A&E.

She said: “If people have a serious accident or consider their condition to be life-threatening then A&E may well be the right place for them. However we urge people with minor illnesses and injuries - which can be treated at home, by a GP or pharmacist, or at a Walk In Centre or Minor Injury Unit - to stay away from A&E and keep it free for those who really need specialist care.

“If people are ill or injured but it’s not serious enough for a 999 emergency call and they can’t visit a GP surgery, they can call the free NHS 111 number for advice on how to treat themselves as well as get information on what other options are available to them.”