The head of one of New Zealand’s busiest Emergency Departments has called for so called ‘Crate Day’ to be banned after Waikato Hospital ED struggled to cope with an influx of intoxicated people on Saturday night.
Dr John Bonning said the surge started around 10pm on Saturday with a large number of drunk people flooding the Emergency Department, it peaked at 2am and even by 8am on Sunday morning, there were people still waiting to be seen by a doctor.
“There were a lot of 16-23 year-olds represented. Most were purely intoxicated and too drunk to look after themselves in the community. There were also a number injured as a result of being intoxicated. They were loud, rude and demanding,” said Dr Bonning.
This meant lots of time and resources had to be diverted away from other patients including older people and young children who were also waiting patiently for treatment.
“We had five resuscitation rooms running with a continuous flow of intoxicated people, and even bringing in staff to work overtime we were struggling to cope, some people waited 11 hours to be seen. I know that ‘Crate Day’ started as a radio station publicity stunt, but encouraging binge drinking like this is incredibly irresponsible.”
He said that not only was binge drinking harmful to people’s health, but it also put undue strain on the emergency department, putting other people’s lives at risks.
“We aim to get 95 per cent of our patients assessed, treated, admitted or discharged from ED within six hours, but we couldn’t do this at the weekend. Studies show that ED overcrowding is associated with significantly increased mortality and length of stay in hospital. Recent Auckland University research showed that lives are saved by getting people out of ED in a timely manner.”
“Crate day is not a bit of fun, to be celebrated, it’s encouraging people to binge drink an entire crate of beer, which is incredibly harmful to their health. If people could see what I see in my emergency department at 2am in the morning, they wouldn’t be so keen to take part.”
Dr Bonning urged those celebrating over Christmas to consume alcohol responsibly, don’t binge. Your behaviour if you drink too much not only harms yourself but can also harm others.