People who turn up at hospital emergency departments intoxicated should be arrested and charged by the Gardai, according to Cllr John Carroll.
The Fianna Fail councillor has told the Tipperary Star that he will raise the issue through a notice of motion at the next meeting of the HSE West Forum, of which he is a member.
He also intends to raise it with Supt Bob Noonan to have the issue discussed at the Joint Policing Committee.
“A person can be arrested if found intoxicated in public, yet these people are turning up at emergency departments and clogging up the system,” he said. “They are abusing staff and other patients and this is totally unacceptable.”
He pointed out that if people intoxicated or under the influence of illegal substances were brought before the courts they could be fined and could have a criminal conviction.
He said that, as a member of the HSE he had seen it with “his own two eyes” in University Hospital Limerick, where, he said, there was already serious overcrowding in the emergency department.
“Elderly people waiting on a diagnosis and other genuinely sick people have to endure the behaviour of these people,” he said.
The councillor said that arresting drunks could be done at the bigger hospitals with 24-hour cover, pointing out that University Hospital Limerick had its own garda presence.
“These people may not, indeed, it would be hoped that they would not, be around at Nenagh Hospital, which does not take admissions after 8pm,” he said.
Cllr Carroll said that the issue was being examined under the NHS in Britain and it was his intention to get more information on how they were looking at it.