Drunk A&E patients 'should pay' for hospital treatment

image captionThe patient group said drunk people should also be charged for using ambulances

Drunk people should pay for the treatment they receive at accident and emergency units, a patients' group has said.

The Scotland Patients Association said nurses and doctors were often abused by those who had overindulged in alcohol, particularly at weekends.

They said the time had now come for such people to pay for services.

Margaret Watt, chair of the group, said she would be raising the issue with Scotland's health secretary.

Ms Watt said: "Anyone who has been abusing alcohol and can't stand on their feet and is admitted to hospital at the weekend should pay towards their treatment.

"Staff are used and abused by these people."

Ms Watt said drunk people should be charged for using ambulances and for the time of staff who treated them.

She said that the money generated from such a scheme should then be invested in increasing NHS staff numbers.

Ms Watt said she would be raising the idea with Nicola Sturgeon at a meeting on 10 March.

The Scottish government said alcohol misuse cost Scotland £3.56bn a year - about £900 for every adult.

When asked about the issue of charging for drunk patients for emergency treatment, Ms Sturgeon said: "Not only does alcohol misuse burden health service and police - and the healthcare costs alone are around £267m annually - but it also leaves families devastated by the death and illness caused by alcohol.

"It's vital that Scotland faces up to the problem and takes decisive action."

She added that the Scottish government had invested £100m in prevention, treatment and support services over the past three years.

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