Plans are progressing for a night-time ‘safe haven’ for drunken Doncaster revellers to ease the burden on over-stretched A&E services.
A pilot scheme is set to run over 12 successive Saturday nights in the town centre in a bid to lighten the load on the accident and emergency department at Doncaster Royal Infirmary.
Health bosses are looking for a suitable venue for the facility, which will operate between 11pm and 4am.
The plans come after it was revealed around 11 people a day turn up at Doncaster’s A&E with alcohol-related issues.
New figures discussed at Doncaster Council’s Health and Wellbeing board have also revealed there are 40,000 ‘hazardous’ drinkers in Doncaster, 14,000 harmful drinkers and 5,600 dependent drinkers. The scheme would aim to support vulnerable people in distress in the town centre at nightwith issues ranging from physical violence, excessive alcohol consumption, drug taking, separation from friends and family, or who are lost.
Dr Rupert Suckling, Director for Public Health, said: “Doncaster Public Health are in the process of putting together a business case for a safe haven to be piloted in Doncaster town centre.
“Safe havens have proved successful in other parts of the country and will provide somewhere that revellers in town on a Saturday night can receive help and support, both medical and practical, which will hopefully minimise the number of A&E attendances along with reducing the risk of people being left vulnerable to crime.
He added: “The pilot will be for 12 successive Saturday nights and be staffed by health care professionals and supported by Street Pastors and South Yorkshire Police between the hours of 11pm till 4am.”
A date for the start of the pilot scheme is yet to be confirmed.
The scheme would see police, ambulance staff, street pastors and the council working together to offer a safe place for under-the-influence party-goers to deter them from turning up at A&E.
Helen Conroy, public health specialist for Doncaster told the meeting work was now taking place to find a suitable venue for the safe haven.
It is hoped that it will have a knock-on effect in tackling violent crime in Doncaster, averting drunken punch-ups and assaults.
A spokesman for South Yorkshire Police said: “We are working as part of the Safer Doncaster Partnership to consider plans for the creation of safe havens in the town centre.
She added: “This is in its early stages.”
A spokesman at Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust said: “The Trust welcomes discussions with our partners around initiatives that aim to reduce pressure on services during periods of high demand and ensure the best clinical care for our patients.”
A similar scheme to that which is currently being planned in Donaster was launched in Blackpool in 2008 has been hailed a success.