Sunderland health chiefs fear impact of Euro 2012 binge drinkers

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CONCERNS are growing that binge drinkers could stretch health services in Sunderland to the limit during Euro 2012.

Pubs and clubs across the city are geared up for a busy few weeks as football fans make the most of the tournament which started last night.

But the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) and police could find themselves working overtime amid concerns that supermarkets are slashing booze prices.

There are fears excessive drinking could lead to paramedic staff being inundated with callouts.

England’s first game, against France, takes place on Monday.

Paul Liversidge, chief operating officer at NEAS NHS Foundation Trust spoke of the “strain” that could be put on staff.

He said: “Events such as Euro 2012 are great, but can have a huge impact on the ambulance service with increased alcohol-related incidents and callouts.

“People do get carried away and cheap alcohol is a major factor.

“We would urge people to drink sensibly and consider the health implications and consequences, both in the short and long term.”

But Debra Jones, supervisor at Sunderland city centre pub Chaplins, said she felt that bars were not making drink prices cheaper for the time the tournament is on.

“We are not encouraging people to binge drink,” she said.

“We are letting customers book tables for the games and putting nibbles on because we want them to enjoy the match with us, but not by drinking too much.

“It’s always a great atmosphere as well.

“We never have any trouble here because if it looks like we are going to get any, then those people are sent out straightaway.”

A survey by North East alcohol office Balance found that some popular drink brands are being sold for 22p cheaper per can now than they were in February.

Balance has long called for a minimum unit price for alcohol to be introduced.

Colin Shevils, director of Balance, said: “It is frustrating and frankly irresponsible that alcohol continues to be sold at such low prices.

“Supermarkets are using Euro 2012 as an opportunity to sell more alcohol and increase profits, regardless of our health and welfare.”

England and Wales will consult on the level of a minimum unit price of alcohol later this year.

“With the support of a majority of people in the North East and the support of councils across the North East, we look to the Government’s consultation to improve this situation and start tackling cheap alcohol and it’s devastating impact on the region,” said Mr Shevils.

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