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UK hospitals may roll out 'drunk tanks' nationwide to ease ER strains

Health officials in the U.K. are considering nationwide deployment of 'drunk tanks' to lessen the strain heavy drinkers place on emergency rooms and ambulance services, according to ABC News.

Researchers from the National Health Service of England said Friday they are examining whether Alcohol Intoxication Management Services, known as drunk tanks, may be used on a national level. There are currently about 16 mobile units across several cities in England, according to BBC News.

The mobile drunk tanks provide a safe place for people who drank heavily and need to be watched over and sleep it off. The vehicles are equipped with beds, seats, two showers, medical drips, oxygen, blood testing equipment and a pump system. Paramedics staff the vehicles to provide basic treatment.

Health officials estimate 12 percent to 15 percent of England's emergency room visits are due to acute alcohol intoxication, with numbers increasing on weekends.

Heavy drinking is diverting resources sick people need, said Simon Stevens, CEO of NHS England. Mr. Stevens said it is wrong for health workers to devote precious time to people who "just need somewhere to safely sleep it off."

More articles on patient flow:
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UChicago Medical Center restricts visitors due to early spike in flu cases

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