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Effect of 24-h alcohol licensing on emergency departments: the South Yorkshire experience
  1. Lucy A Jones1,2,
  2. Steve Goodacre3,4
  1. 1Emergency Department, Northern General Hospital, Sheffield, UK
  2. 2School of Health and Related Research, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK
  3. 3Medical Care Research Unit, School of Health and Related Research, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK
  4. 4Northern General Hospital, Sheffield, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Lucy A Jones, Accident and Emergency Department, Northern General Hospital, Herries Road, Sheffield S5 7UA, UK; indiana_2000{at}


Background The alcohol Licensing Act (2003) was introduced to England and Wales on 23 November 2005. A single-centre study in 2007 from St Thomas's Hospital concluded that their alcohol-related attendances had significantly increased after the implementation of this new Act. This study aimed to assess whether this finding was reproduced in other hospitals.

Method A retrospective cohort study, reviewing anonymised routine data from four emergency departments (ED) in South Yorkshire, was undertaken. The study population was adults (over the age of 18 years) attending the ED with injuries or illnesses directly related to alcohol in the 12 months before and after the implementation of the Licensing Act (2003). The primary outcome was the number of these alcohol-related attendances. Secondary outcomes assessed whether there was any change in the timing of these presentations.

Results Alcohol-related attendances, as detected by clinical coding, increased from 0.6% to 0.7% as a proportion of all attendances (95% CI 0.1 to 0.2, p<0.001). They increased by 0.4% at the Northern General Hospital and by 0.1% at Barnsley Hospital, decreased by 0.2% at Doncaster Royal Infirmary and did not significantly change at Rotherham General Hospital. The secondary outcome showed an unaltered peak time of 01:00 hours for alcohol-related attendances.

Conclusion Trends in alcohol-related attendances after the implementation of the Licensing Act (2003) varied across South Yorkshire hospitals and probably reflect local factors rather than any consistent impact from the Act.

  • Alcohol
  • alcohol abuse
  • emergency care systems, emergency departments
  • licence
  • licensing
  • mental health

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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