Hospitals are gearing up for a busy night across Yorkshire as the county prepares itself for a day which has been dubbed as ‘Mad Friday’.
This is the last Friday before Christmas - and the last working Friday of the year - so alcohol consumption is expected to rocket with office parties in full swing. Revellers are being urged to avoid ending up in Accident and Emergency departments to help stop stretching resources to the limit.
Dr Sarah Robertshaw, head of clinical service emergency medicine at the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS trust, said: “The festive period, and in particular the Friday before Christmas, can see people drinking much more than usual.
“We don’t want to be killjoys and dampen the festive spirit but we do want people to remember their Christmas party for the right reason, and not because they ended the night in A&E. Alcohol-related injuries can stretch hard-pressed A&E departments to the limit.”
Drink sales often hit their annual peak on this day of the year. The Friday before Christmas last year saw alcohol takings rise in pubs, clubs, restaurants and hotels by 142 per cent - and that did not take into account drink bought from shops and supermarkets.
Dr Robertshaw said: “We would advise people to pace themselves and try to drink sensibly. Good tips are to make sure that you’ve had something to eat so that you’re not drinking on an empty stomach and have a non-alcoholic drink several times throughout the night. We would also advise people to take care of their friends and family who may have had too much to drink: help them to get home safely and avoid injuring themselves.”
The Yorkshire Post has already reported that police in Leeds are expecting 50 per cent more calls than normal this weekend. They generally receive around 500 calls in an average 24-hour period.
If people do have problems tonight, Dr Robertshaw wants them to think carefully before entering an A&E department. She said: “If people have a serious accident or consider their condition to be life-threatening then A&E may well be the right place for them. However we urge people with minor illnesses and injuries - which can be treated at home, by a GP or pharmacist, or at a Walk In Centre or Minor Injury Unit - to stay away from A&E and keep it free for those who really need specialist care.
“If people are ill or injured but it’s not serious enough for a 999 emergency call and they can’t visit a GP surgery, they can call the free NHS 111 number for advice on how to treat themselves as well as get information on what other options are available to them.”
Health experts are urging people to turn next month into ‘Dry January’ by going completely teetotal to make up for the festive excess.
Dr Yvonne Doyle, London Regional Director of Public Health England, said: “A period of abstinence could help encourage less harmful, better drinking habits in the long term - even six months later, evidence from Dry January shows more than two-thirds of participants are still drinking less.
“As the festive season continues, we are urging people to take a break and get their 2016 off to a positive start by signing up for Dry January.” Even for those who do not require medical treatment tonight, the effects of Mad Friday - and the rest of the festive season - are likely to be felt for some time by the participants. In Yorkshire, 41 per cent of people say that they suffer a hangover for up to five hours, according to a survey by SodaStream.
Azmina Govindji, who has appeared as an expert nutritionist on BBC’s The One Show and ITV’s This Morning, has picked out some food and drink to try, which could help reduce the effects; water, porridge, greek yoghurt, oranges, bananas, salted peanuts, eggs on toast, and ginger, honey and lemon.
She said: “When you’ve been drinking alcohol, your body craves fluids and drinking water before, during and after a night out drinking is one of the best ways to address this. Your potassium and sodium levels also go down, so having some fresh lemon wedges and a bag of salted peanuts with your drink helps to replenish this.”