Wayne Thompson

Wayne Thompson is a NZ Herald reporter.

10 drunks a day at emergency rooms

The council's alcohol action plan aims to clamp down on drunken behaviour in central Auckland. Photo / Sarah Ivey
The council's alcohol action plan aims to clamp down on drunken behaviour in central Auckland. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Drunk men and women turned up at Auckland emergency rooms last year at the rate of nearly 10 a day, say statistics from the region's three district health boards.

The statistics for 2010-11 feature in notes to Auckland Council's alcohol harm reduction strategy, which councillors have endorsed.

The regional development and operations committee approved work on the strategy in March last year as a response to safety, health and crime concerns expressed by organisations including local boards and the police.

The committee has resolved to aim for "a safe and healthy city where there is minimal risk of harm to Auckland communities from alcohol-related activities".

Mayor Len Brown said the strategy would reinforce proposals of this month's mayoral taskforce to clamp down on drunken behaviour in central Auckland.

The aim was to balance responsible enjoyment of alcohol and the economic benefits of the hospitality and entertainment industry while managing alcohol's social costs.

The council would boost public and industry awareness of obligations and work in more closely with agencies and communities and the police on liquor bans and licence breaches.

The mayor and councillors expressed impatience with the slow passage of the Alcohol Reform Bill, which will give the council and local boards more say over the number, location and opening hours of liquor outlets and rules.

A year ago, Auckland had 3346 licensed premises and 2342 permanent liquor bans on specific areas.

The committee expressed disappointment it could face a delay of six months to a year after the bill is passed before change can happen.

It noted 3600 alcohol-related presentations to emergency departments across the region in the 2010-11 year, compared with 292,000 general cases. Six deaths in Auckland emergency rooms were blamed on alcohol.

- NZ Herald

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