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  1. ITV Report

Emergency services brace for booze-fuelled 'Black Eye Friday'

Paramedics, police and hospitals are braced for a traditional surge in binge drinking tonight, in what is fast becoming known as an annual 'Black Friday of booze'.

The last Friday before Christmas - also known as Mad Friday or Black Eye Friday - is often treated as a party day, with many office parties being scheduled for the date.

There was a reported 114 per cent rise in the amount of alcohol sold in pubs, bars and restaurants sold at this time last year compared to an average Friday.

The last Friday before Christmas - also known as Mad Friday or Black Eye Friday - is usually treated as a party day Credit: PA

Official figures show around £3.7 billion was spend on alcohol in England last December, with alcohol sales rocketing by 28 per cent between November and December.

And with the seasonal excess in mind, public health bosses are today launching a campaign to encourage people to go dry for January.

We really want to encourage people to be more mindful about the health harms of alcohol intake and what they can do to be more moderate drinkers and reduce the harms from alcohol moving forward.

– Kevin Fenton, Public Health England
Official figures show around £3.7 billion was spend on alcohol in England last December Credit: PA

Kevin Fenton, Public Health England's director of health and wellbeing said England had seen a nine per cent rise in average alcohol consumption over the past 20 years, whereas the rest of Europe had seen a decline.

And with this increased consumption comes an increased risk of liver disease, obesity, cancer, dementia and other health problems related to excess drinking, he added.

Charity Alcohol Concern has been promoting Dry January for the past three years, and is now teaming up with Public Health England for the first time.

Charity Alcohol Concern has been promoting Dry January for the past three years Credit: PA

Charity chief executive Jackie Ballard said last year, more than 17,000 people took part - and around 72 per cent of them continued to drink sensibly once the month was over.

There are a multitude of problems related to Black Friday, one of which is the impact on individuals' health if they are drinking more than Government guidelines say they should.

Secondly there's the impact it has on emergency services and hospital admissions.

There's the impact on other people on the roads if someone gets behind the wheel and they've had too much to drink.

It is a critical day for the NHS but also it's a day when people are putting themselves in danger and they are likely to carry on drinking more than they should through the Christmas period.

Take a month off, you'll find at the end of that month you've saved money, you feel healthier, you feel more energetic, you have probably lost weight and you can change your relationship with alcohol hopefully for life.

– Jackie Ballard, Alcohol Concern