Simon Stevens said he would be closely monitoring how the mobile units cope on New Year’s Eve before deciding whether they should become a regular feature. Drunk tanks provide a safe place for those who have over-indulged to be checked over and sleep it off. They are often used over the festive period to stop people ending up at A&E. There are around 16 mobile units – also known as booze buses – across the UK, according to a recent survey, and a number of cities operate them all year round, including Newcastle, Cardiff, Manchester and Bristol. Mr Stevens said he may start recommending others follow suit, given an estimated 15% of attendances at A&E are due to alcohol consumption. This rises to about 70% on Friday and Saturday nights.  He said he was thinking about the move after spending time with ambulance crews in London and the West Midlands in recent weeks.  “I’ve seen first-hand how paramedics and A&Es are being called on to deal with drunk and aggressive behaviour.” But Dr Katherine Henderson, a consultant in emergency medicine from Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospitals, said it might be better to have a conversation about people drinking less on a night out. She told the BBC: “By making this facility, it’s like saying ‘you can depend on the NHS to provide you with a safe place to sober up'”. “You’re saying ‘there’s a safety net for you’, rather than saying ‘how are you going to get yourself and your friends home safely’?”

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