Binge drinking, like a cup of tea, is seemingly ingrained in Britain’s culture and our drunken antics is why we’ve earned the name “Booze Britain”. Now there is nothing wrong with going out drinking; I often find nightclubs are a great way to find out what music is currently in the UK’s Top 40 and as the old saying goes “Alcohol: because no great story ever started with a salad”.
However, what constitutes as a great story is debatable; personally I think a great story involving drinking is when my friend wandered around Fusion with her top unbuttoned to her waist for the best part of a night, but some people think a great story involves getting so drunk you’re taken home in an ambulance instead of a taxi.
Now, I know we’re always looking for new ways to reduce our taxi fare, ranging from sharing a taxi with as many people as possible to getting out of the taxi a little earlier to walk and save on that precious pound. However, using the NHS as a free ride home is not only unacceptable, but becoming far too common and is costing the NHS billions of pounds.
There are around 200,000 hospital admissions each year with alcohol cited as the primary factor, and it is estimated that such admissions cost the NHS 2.7 billion. Not only that, but The Association of Chief Police Officers say that around 50% of violent crime is alcohol related.
One solution that police chiefs have proposed is to put people in “drunk tanks” owned by commercial companies who will then be able to charge the person for the care that they receive, and it is said that people could be charged up to around £400 for an overnight stay in a drunk tank, which police will hope will deter people from binge drinking.
Of course, there are issues with the drunk tanks, and I am always wary of supporting something that David Cameron is a fan of. Drunk Tanks seem like a good idea in theory, but there is the issue of allowing commercial companies to run them. After all, what is to stop them from putting someone in a drunk tank because they are stumble a little bit but are in no way incapable of looking after themselves in a bid to maximise profits?
Some countries in Europe already have such things in place to deal with drunk people, but the binge drinking culture in Britain is one which seems to be a bigger problem in our society than others.
Perhaps an alternative to allowing private companies have control of drunk tanks would to be have them run by the NHS and have the money put back into the NHS where it belongs. That way private companies are not making profits and there is a reduced risk of drunk tanks being abused so companies are not making extra profits where they should not be.
Either way, as students we have to accept that whilst binge drinking is a large part of the university experience, the binge drinking culture is becoming a huge burden on the NHS , and that if we somehow end up in the back of an ambulance then we will have to face the consequences and it may be a little more expensive than the shame you feel when you wake up.