Minister suggests charging drunk patients

13th August, 2014 by Lauren Eads

Northern Ireland’s health minister has said charging drunk patients for treatment at hospitals’ Accident and Emergency departments could help prevent the overstretched service from being abused.

NHS-nurse-hospital_2519626b

Poots said the idea of charging drunk patients had “merit”

Earlier this week Edwin Poots, Northern Ireland’s health minister, agreed there was “merit” in charging patients admitted for drink and drug related ailments, adding that it could be a way of preventing misuse of A&E by the public, as reported by the Belfast Telegraph.

As reported by the BBC, Poots said: “The United Kingdom has a great principle of health care, free at the point of need to all who need it irrespective of their ability to pay for it. I think it is a wonderful principle but I think on occasions it is abused and we sometimes need to look at how we can make sure that abuse doesn’t take place.”

He admitted the idea had “merit”, but that implementing it would be “more challenging”.

His comments follow attempts by Poots’ department to ease pressure on the country’s overstretched A&Es by providing extra resources, however staff have said they are still frequently under “severe pressure”, according to the BBC. 

Dr George O’Neill, chairman of addiction in Northern Ireland, has branded his comments “simplistic and totally impractical” and a “naive”, “knee-jerk response” to a much wider issue.

“Politicians should stick to strategy and policy and should not be looking at delivery of service, that is not their role”, he said, adding that charging people who are drunk would not address the problems emergency departments are facing.

“Tinkering with A&E is not going to solve a problem. He has to look at the whole system and at present they are not doing that. Knee-jerk reactions do not solve long-standing problems”, he said.

In response to criticism, a spokesperson for the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety said: “The issue of considering charging those attending EDs for treatment arising from being under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs serves to stimulate public discussion about the need for people to use the health service wisely and, if they don’t, then looking at what steps we might take to influence them.

“However, this (charging) would be a difficult measure to implement. In practice it would be very difficult to differentiate between those that have a health problem because of a direct decision they have taken themselves and those where there is another cause.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to our newsletters

Job vacancies

Brand Ambassador – Santa Rita Estates

Santa Rita Estates
London or Hertfordshire but with flexibility to travel, UK

Sales Executive - Wine and Spirits Awards

The Drinks Business
Central London, UK

On-Trade Channel Manager

Delegat Europe Limited (UK)
London / Midlands, GB

Trade Marketing Analyst

Delegat Europe (UK)
London, GB

Key Account Executive

Delegat Europe Limited (UK)
London / Midlands, GB

Senior National Account Manager

Bibendum PLB
London, UK

ON-TRADE Sales Executive

Roberson Wine
London, UK

OFF-TRADE Sales Executive

Roberson Wine
London, UK

Judging Week Runners

Decanter World Wine Awards
ExCel Centre, London E16, UK

Sales Administrator

Les Caves de Pyrène
Guildford, UK

Retail Commercial Executive

Laithwaite's Wine
Theale, Berkshire

Wine Buyer

Conviviality Plc
Crewe, UK

Sales Account Manager - On-Trade

Berkmann Wine Cellars
Liverpool

Sales Account Manager - On-Trade

Berkmann Wine Cellars
M3/M4 corridor

Media Sales Manager - Hong Kong

The Drinks Business Hong Kong
Hong Kong

The Global Merlot Masters 2017

Deadline : 31st March 2017

The Prosecco Masters 2017

Deadline : 10th March 2017

db Awards 2017

Deadline : 28th April 2017

The Global Organic Masters 2017

Deadline : 3rd March 2017

Click to view more

The Global Sparkling Masters

the drinks business is thrilled to announce the launch of The Global Sparkling Masters

The Global Rosé Masters 2016

the drinks business is proud to announce the launch of the Global Rosé Masters 2016.

The Prosecco Masters 2016

Now in its third year, the competition will reflect the growth in popularity of this fresh and exciting sparkling wine from the picturesque regions of Veneto and Friuli.

The Global Pinot Noir Masters 2016

After the success of last year’s competition that judged over 250 wines from no less than 16 countries, the drinks business is proud to announce the third year of the Global Pinot Noir Masters

Click to view more