25 June, 2020: As pubs in England’s town and city centres prepare to reopen on Saturday July 4, St John Ambulance is getting ready to care for revellers who find themselves sick or injured on a night out.

The health and first aid charity’s Alcohol Reception Centres have become a regular sight over recent years, running in 35 locations including Newcastle, Leeds, Birmingham and Manchester; Leicester is about to become the 36th.

Led by healthcare professionals, the ARCs aim to reduce demand on the NHS by providing healthcare and treating patients on the spot, lowering the need for 999 calls and unnecessary hospital admissions.

St John is backing a new report on Night Time Economy (NTE) operations, published by the National Institute for Health Research which cites improved ambulance response times and other benefits, and recommends agreed national standards.

And the charity has ambitious plans to lead the way in protecting the public and supporting communities.

St John Ambulance volunteers

“We wholeheartedly agree that a single set of national standards will support a consistency in approach and St John is well placed to deliver those,” says St John Ambulance’s head of community response, Adam Williams.

“Over the winter of 2019-20, St John worked with a number of partners to facilitate over 30 operations across the country, and that provides us with good data, experience and evidence on how to create a national standard and framework.”

The NIHR report found that a nurse-led model was the most expensive service evaluated but was also the most likely to divert patients away from emergency departments.

“We strongly recognise the advantages of having a healthcare professional with experience in pre-hospital care supporting ambulance crews, first aiders and other agencies,” Adam added.

“We’re keen to explore opportunities to further strengthen the evidence on how these kinds of services can support emergency departments, and will also look at how we can demonstrate their positive impacts on ambulance trusts, the police, businesses and other key stakeholders.”

St John Ambulance has put together a team to work on expanding its support to the night time economy, including the charity’s volunteer national community response lead, Alex Thompson. The working group meets for the first time this week.

“As the COVID-19 restrictions begin to ease and pubs, bars, and clubs are gradually allowed to reopen, we expect to see an increasing demand for St John to step back in to this space and provide support,” says Alex.

“Our aspiration is to grow the portfolio of NTE operations across the country; expanding the opportunities available for our St John people to support this work.”