GPs unite to warn of deadly consequences of cheap alcohol

A group of doctors have hit out at the selling of low-cost drinks, claiming they are dealing on a regular basis with the consequences of alcohol abuse on young people, particularly girls.

The eight doctors in one medical centre in Ballyshannon are backed by hospital consultants in Letterkenny and Sligo who say their emergency departments deal almost daily with drink-fuelled assaults.

The medics warned it is time for Ireland to reconsider its views on drink.

Their statement came two months after a district court judge set a minimum price limit to curb low-cost selling in clubs in Bundoran.

The eight Ballyshannon GPs, who work at the town’s Bayview Family Practice, issued a statement to their local paper, the Donegal Democrat, yesterday, urging a national rethink.

They said: “Collectively as a community we need to act responsibly; most particularly those involved in the distribution, promotion, and sale of alcohol.

“We, as general practitioners, deal with the consequences of cheap, readily available alcohol on a regular basis. Young people are particularly vulnerable.”

The GPs quoted Department of Health figures and a European Schools report to underline their concern.

The report showed Irish children reported being drunk more often than in most European countries — 28% in the last month compared to 18% across Europe.

The doctors added: “Most worryingly, girls far exceed boys.”

Kieran Cunningham, a consultant in emergency medicine at Sligo Regional Hospital, said its emergency department “sees patients every day with injuries, drink-fuelled assaults, or falls”.

Gerry Lane, a consultant in emergency medicine at Letterkenny General Hospital, said on one night in the last year his emergency department dealt with 20 people from a single establishment.

He warned of the deadly dangers: “What started off as a bit of fun, a nice warm glow, ends up with you drunk, injured, at home crying, sick or worse.

“Some end up killed, raped, or pregnant.

“Thousands of people are putting themselves unnecessarily at risk every weekend, and part of this is due to under-priced drink from corner shops, supermarkets, pubs, and clubs.”

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