THE true cost of booze in Blackpool has been put in the national spotlight.
This week’s episode of the Channel 4 show 999: What’s Your Emergency? focused on the problems in the resort caused by alcohol and the human cost of drink.
It looked at all three emergency services and the many call-outs they receive due to addiction – from the steady stream of drunks and binge drinkers coming into Blackpool’s central police station to an alcoholic who repeatedly dialled 999 to get a warm bed in A&E for the night.
Firefighters told viewers alcohol was involved in the majority of fires where people were killed and police spoke about booze-fuelled anti-social behaviour they have to deal with.
Shocking figures published earlier this month by charity Alcohol Concern revealed booze-related problems drain a staggering £100m from Blackpool every year. More than 30,000 people in the resort were admitted to hospital due to alcohol in the last 12 months.
Dr Mark Hendrickse, gastroenterology consultant at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said Blackpool had the highest alcohol-related death rate in the country, particularly chronic liver disease.
He added: “The follow-up and management of alcohol-related problems does have a major impact on the services we provide. However as part of our alcohol support team, we have liaison nurses within the hospital and the community who support staff in providing appropriate assessment and care, helping patients lead healthier lives, while significantly decreasing demands on the hospital.”
The programme showed how Blackpool is a magnet for stag and hen parties with around 2,000 clubs and bars.
And PC Kris Beasley estimated booze was behind 99 per cent of the problems officers faced in the resort.
He said: “People we come across in town who are alcoholics, long gone are the days when they used to enjoy drinking. Now they just need to do it to stop themselves from feeling unwell, which is sad.”
And firefighter Tony Barlow told viewers: “Cigarettes and alcohol are a lethal combination. They are involved in a good majority of fires where people die.”
One of the sad stories featured in the show was that of William Marshall, 64, who died in a house fire in Kingsley Road, Marton.
Lancashire Fire Service say Mr Marshall’s next-of-kin wanted the documentary to be shown to highlight the need for smoke alarms – there were none in his home. The blaze was sparked by a portable heater being too close to discarded papers, while Mr Marshall was asleep in his armchair.