THE region’s tourism capital is to operate a “drunk tank” in an effort to ease pressure on paramedics and the local hospital emergency department.

For a six-month trial period a mobile medical unit will be stationed in the centre of York to treat people who are unwell because of drink or minor falls.

Run jointly by the local council and the ambulance service it is hoped the scheme will keep people from unnecessarily being taken by ambulance to A&E.

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The scheme will operate on Friday and Saturday nights from 6pm to 3am and throughout the day when the city is hosting race meetings.

The unit will have a treatment room for one person at a time to see emergency care practitioners and a waiting area for up to six patients suffering minor illnesses or injuries.

The city is following the example set by Leeds, where a community medical unit helped more than 700 people last year – mostly with minor injuries as a result of a fall – and prevented unnecessary visits to hospital.

The medical unit will be in contact with the police and the ambulance service should support be needed, via Nightsafe radios, also held by pub and door staff.

Inspector Charlotte Bloxham, of North Yorkshire Police, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to provide a service to those users of the city centre who might otherwise end up in the Emergency Department.

"Minor injuries or the affects of alcohol misuse often don’t require emergency medical attention.

“This combined service will help to ensure the safety of these vulnerable people. Police officers and hospital staff will therefore be freed up to more effectively carry out their roles.”