DHB chief slams alcohol injuries

By Morgan Tait

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The Hawke's Bay District Health Board's top administrator has slammed a rise in "avoidable" alcohol injuries, which contributed to record numbers of emergency department admissions.

The health board's chief executive, Kevin Snee, said the new year "kicked in with a record number of attendances in Hawke's Bay Hospital's emergency department" - 157 compared to an average 100 to 110 per day.

"This followed a similarly hectic Boxing Day when 152 people arrived in the department over the 24 hours. Noticeable, as well, were the number of patients needing treatment due to alcohol-related injuries or illness."

Bay residents affected by alcohol made up a significant number of arrests, accident statistics and contributed to record numbers of Emergency Department admissions.

Dr Snee's comments echoed those of emergency consultant Scott Boyes, who recently said the toll alcohol injuries had on families, staff and other emergency services was huge and unacceptable.

In this month's edition of his In Focus newsletter, Dr Snee said: "So many people, including small children, are affected by people making unwise decisions or becoming violent and abusive to their family when they have had too much to drink."

Domestic violence call-outs attended by Bay police doubled in the holiday period.

"The personal and societal impact of excessive alcohol consumption and the poor, and risky, choices that often follow are completely avoidable," Dr Snee said.

Alcohol use was alleged to be involved in a widely publicised quad-bike crash that injured Ashlee Shorrock, 6, at Waimarama beach on January 3.

During the holiday period, Police Association vice-president and Hawke's Bay Police Senior Sergeant Luke Shadbolt publicly stated that many officers believed tighter alcohol regulations would help reduce crime.

On Christmas Eve alone, officers were confronted with a gun, a metal bar and close to 100 out-of-control brawlers - all incidents involving alcohol consumption.

"In Hawke's Bay, a big issue is the amount of alcohol," Mr Shadbolt said at the time.

"Just about all domestic violence incidents and most incidents of violence out on the streets involve people and alcohol."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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