Problem drinkers put so much strain on the accident and emergency department at Whipps Cross University Hospital that a specialist outreach service has been brought to save the NHS hundreds of thousands of pounds.
So-called ‘frequent flyers’ are now being referred to specialists working with problem drinkers in the community in an attempt to keep them out of hospital.
The average alcohol-related hospital admission costs the NHS around £2,000, with ambulances costing £350 per call out, according to the outreach group.
Manager Jessica Hardwick said that the service will provide people with the help and support that they need.
“The number of people presenting to A&E because of alcohol related problems is a real issue in Waltham Forest,” she said.
“If patients need to detox, they can take up beds for days.
“Most of the people that we will deal with are over 50s.
"It’s generally not street drinkers but adults who have come out of work and ended up with a problem. They become isolated and bored or have other issues and turn to alcohol.”
In 2013 a six-month pilot study found 53 adults were treated in hospital multiple times.
Joel Mead, team leader said seven people have already been identified as needing treatment since the service launched on Monday.
“The approach that we take is to work with them and find out why they are presenting to hospital,” he added.
“Sometimes it’s boredom or they need care that hasn’t been identified. We will work with social services, the police and the council to find out what they need.
“We can even arrange for simple things like getting them to doctor’s appointments.”