HEALTH bosses have been looking at how services cope with alcohol-related incidents over the New Year period as they decide whether to roll out “drunk tanks” across towns and cities this year.

Drunk tanks provide people with a safe space to be checked over and sleep if they have drunk too much on a night out.

It offers an alternative to being taken to casualty or the police station and is intended to relieve some of the pressure put on A&E departments and ambulance services during the festive season.

Leader of Maldon District Council, Mark Durham, supports the idea.

He said: "I'd say it's a very good idea. It's all about finding the right location in the town and the right people to operate it.

"Anything that provides a safe haven for people who've got themselves into a pickle is worthwhile, and it would also protect everyone else from incidents related to alcohol.

"It would be another tool the armoury to keep the streets safe. Ultimately it's the the NHS' decision, and we must ensure it's operated properly if it happens."

The drunk tanks are already used in some areas of the UK including Newcastle, Bristol and Cardiff.

NHS England chief executive, Simon Stevens said: “When the health service is pulling out all the stops to care for sick and vulnerable patients who rightly and genuinely need our support, it's frankly selfish when ambulance paramedics and A&E nurses have to be diverted to looking after revellers who have overindulged and who just need somewhere to safely sleep it off.

"NHS doesn't stand for 'National Hangover Service', but in the run-up to Christmas, having been out with ambulance crews on night shifts in London and the West Midlands, I've seen first-hand how paramedics and A&Es are being called on to deal with drunk and often aggressive people."

NHS England said the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is also currently carrying out a study looking at whether drunk tanks or Alcohol Intoxication Management Services (AIMS), should be rolled out as a way of managing intoxicated patients.