Doctors back early closing for bars 25 June 2013
Christchurch Hospital emergency department doctors are backing the city’s draft local alcohol policy, saying it will reduce incidents of serious and permanent injury. In a joint perspective piece published in today’s Press, consultant emergency physicians Jan Bone and Scott Pearson say the proposed changes are “a step in the right direction”.  The draft policy, approved by the Christchurch City Council last month, proposes a one-way door rule from 1am in the central city.  Inner-city bars would be allowed to apply for a liquor licence to open until 3am, but in limited areas. Bar owners say the changes could kill the city’s nightlife and discourage owners from setting up bars in the city. However, Bone and Pearson say they are in a “unique position” to see the full extent of harm caused by excessive alcohol consumption.  They say about 30 per cent of the department’s injury workload is alcohol-related, including falls, assaults and vehicle crashes. Most happen between 10pm and 4am. In 2011, cases attributable to alcohol cost the Canterbury hospital system $27.4 million, which could have been spent on different healthcare. They said intoxicated patients were “hugely resource-intensive” and were responsible for almost all incidents of violence towards hospital staff. “We believe that the proposed changes will reduce the number of seriously and permanently injured individuals we care for. We support the implementation of the local alcohol policy in its current form,” they said. The policy is open for public submissions until July 1.