NHS reform must exclude those abusing A&E service

Ebrington hosted the Club MTV event
Ebrington hosted the Club MTV event

One can barely imagine the chaos at Altnagelvin Hospital’s A&E department on Saturday night past when 100 casualties from the Club MTV gig in Ebrington were brought into a unit which, like every other hospital in the country, is generally at its busiest on a Saturday night.

Thirty of those admitted were under the influence of drink and drugs. There were reports of ``extreme illness’’ and assaults by drunk and stoned revellers. Some had to be admitted to intensive care.

Paul Baylis, emergency medicine consultant at the hospital spoke of ``a large number of 16 to 25 year-olds who presented at the department, most intoxicated with alcohol and/or recreational drugs’’. It led ``to our usual challenging Saturday evening environment becoming a more dangerous environment for all our patients’’. I bet it did.

Not so long ago one of his counterparts in another hospital invited me to come into his unit of a weekend to see the chaos caused by drugged and drunk patients. It is situations such as these that are wrecking our treasured National Health Service with some suggesting it may have to start charging those who abuse the service in this way. It shouldn’t be like this. Future reforms to the service may have to include the exclusion of the drunks and drug addicts in A&E who appear to live under the illusion – when they’re sober - that as it’s their taxes that are paying for the NHS aren’t they entitled to use it whenever they feel like it?.

The service was never designed to shoulder the abuse it is now under. The drunks and drug addicts who treat it so abominably clearly have the money to pay for their unhealthy indulgences. The young can indulge themselves with the latest technological and electronic gadgetry, not to mention the latest fashion, holidays, cars and nights out at gigs such as the one at the weekend. Their social lives leave even those of us who were young in the hedonistic Sixties wondering where all the money comes from. Modern parenting has to take some blame for the waywardness of the young. The reluctance on the part of parents to set boundaries for their children has created a generation of young people many of whom are simply out of control, unable to handle or even see the dangers that face them on those nights out. Drugs are everywhere and alcohol is cheaper by far than it was when I was a teenager. The saddest thing is that young people appear not to have developed the ability to see when they are being exploited. They believe the drug pushers who tell them how great a time they will have on the various substances, not comprehending, of course, that those lippy salesmen are just in it for the money and most likely don’t touch the stuff themselves. We’ve all seen children, probably not much older than 12 years, running around the streets of our towns and villages late at night leaving us wondering where their parents are. Those parents will be at home watching the soaps and reality shows on television. Many parents will know who won the last X-Factor show or Bake-Off but will they know where their children were at the time. Children have a canny knack of knowing when parents are so occupied they won’t even know they’re missing.

This is modern society living and its victims are the out of control young cluttering up your average hospital A&E ward on Saturday nights.