Top doctor calls on England fans to go easy on the alcohol

One of the country’s leading emergency doctors has called on England fans to show their passion this World Cup, but lay off the booze to help themselves and hard-pressed hospitals.

Dr John Heyworth, an emergency department consultant at Southampton General Hospital, says staff are preparing for a rise in alcohol-related injuries during the tournament as people across the country pile into pubs.

But while assault victims are likely to take up a large proportion of time, home drinkers also need to take extra care, with an expected increase in people tripping up or falling down stairs.

“During the World Cup, and particularly when England are playing, people will find themselves either at home or in the pub and are obviously very excited about the upcoming event,” said Dr Heyworth, who is president of the College of Emergency Medicine.

“With the build-up to the match, the game itself and the aftermath, there is an opportunity for some substantial drinking - and we know that when people are passionate about football matches and alcohol is involved, it can lead to some great times but also some less favourable incidents.”

With an expectant country now eagerly awaiting the first game of the tournament for Fabio Capello’s men against the USA on 12 June, health experts are keen not to dampen the mood, but the likely increase in avoidable accidents is a reality.

“We see an increase in the number of people tripping over, falling down stairs and crashing their cars,” Dr Heyworth explained.

“Alcohol-related concerns are focused in a very small time frame around big international matches. A lot of drinking, a lot of passion, a lot of excitement, hopefully a lot of euphoria and sometimes a bit of disappointment – a mix that can very easily lead to either violence or accidents, and people need to be aware of that.”

Specialists at Southampton General Hospital are also expecting to see a higher number of patients suffering from domestic abuse, which rose during the World Cup in 2006.

Dr Rob Crouch, a consultant nurse in the emergency department, said: “The rate of domestic abuse increased during the World Cup in 2006 and it was far higher on the weekends when England had significant games.

“If individuals are at risk, or perceive themselves to be at risk, they should be aware of the increased dangers and make plans accordingly, keeping key contact numbers to hand and have clear plans to protect themselves and others who may be at risk.”

Dr Heyworth added: “People can have a great time and be very enthusiastic and passionate about their support for England, which we all want to be, but it does need just a bit of thought to make sure it doesn’t all go wrong.”

Posted on Friday 4 June 2010