Waikato Times

Crate Day no party for fed-up ED staff

- Rachel Moore rachel.moore@stuff.co.nz

Emergency department staff are ‘‘over’’ the culture of binge-drinking and harm, an ED doctor says.

A study has found twice as many drunk young adults turned up at Waikato emergency department­s on unofficial beer drinking holiday Crate Day.

It was alcohol-consuming males who were twice as likely to require emergency department care on a Crate Day weekend.

Waikato Hospital emergency department doctor John Bonning said health profession­als saw the worst of alcohol harm, and it was ‘‘really frustratin­g’’.

And it wasn’t just Crate Day, alcohol harm was prevalent in emergency department­s every Friday and Saturday night.

But, the beer-drinking stunt, when people aimed to quaff nine litres of beer, was ‘‘the poster child for binge-drinking’’, he said.

Crate Day was started by The Rock radio station in 2009, and its participan­ts drink one crate of beer – with twelve 745ml bottles of beer – on the first Saturday of December each year.

The study – by Ishani Soysa, Alexander Brebner, Dyfed Thomas and Elizabeth Becker – labelled the holiday a ‘‘public health concern’’ and said it could cause harm by taking up scare health resources and delaying other patients’ care.

It looked at alcohol-related presentati­ons to emergency department­s on Crate Day and the weekends before and after across the Waikato health region from 2019 and 2020 pooled data.

It said the ‘‘vast majority’’ of those were due to acute intoxicati­on.

Bonning said people needing hospital care for alcohol related conditions took resources off other patients – and it was preventabl­e.

‘‘People just need to think about the impact of their actions.’’

He was on duty on the Saturday night of last year’s Crate Day and while they weren’t flooded with people at once, they expected to be busy and didn’t have the resources to increase staffing numbers.

The people who came in were extremely intoxicate­d, and might need x-rays or surgeries for injuries. They could be aggressive or unpleasant and might vomit everywhere.

Bonning said they also still saw drink drivers, who might have injured themselves or an innocent party, as well as people involved in drunken assaults.

And he believed the study showed the tip of the iceberg.

The data relied on staff ticking a box in the system, and police and St John were called to people who didn’t make it to the hospital.

Bonning said he wasn’t calling for abstinence, but wanted people to drink in moderation and think about their actions.

He said there needed to be more awareness of the harm caused by drinking in excess, more limits on advertisin­g, and restrictio­ns on alcohol outlets.

Data showed alcohol played a role in 6.5% of presentati­ons to the five emergency department­s in the region, equating to 100 patients, on Crate Day weekends.

Twice as many 20 to 34-year-olds were admitted for alcohol related conditions on Crate Day weekends compared to other weekends.

Te Whatu Ora Waikato Medical Officer of Health Dr Richard Hoskins said he wasn’t surprised by the study’s result.

‘‘I expected the irresponsi­ble promotion of drinking to excess would lead to higher harm and that would be reflected in ED.’’

Hoskins wasn’t one of the study’s authors, but worked with those who contribute­d.

He said the idea came from media reporting – particular­ly about police officers’ experience– of the harm caused by Crate Day, as well as first-hand experience­s from health profession­als.

After improvemen­ts to systems that meant access to better data, Hoskins said they felt a responsibi­lity to use it to reduce harm and help their colleagues.

Hoskins encouraged a Government review of alcohol legislatio­n, and wanted to see the promotion and sponsorshi­p of alcohol looked at.

 ?? ?? Waikato’s emergency department doctor John Bonning, pictured left, said Crate Day was frustratin­g. Right: Crate Day havoc at Manly Beach, North Auckland in 2014.
Waikato’s emergency department doctor John Bonning, pictured left, said Crate Day was frustratin­g. Right: Crate Day havoc at Manly Beach, North Auckland in 2014.
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