Patients who have had too much alcohol should pay for the treatment they receive at accident and emergency units, a patients’ association said today.

Margaret Watt, chair of the Scotland Patients Association, said nurses and doctors were often abused by people who had overindulged in alcohol, particularly at weekends, and that they should be made to pay for the services they used.

She said: “This is making a big hole in the budget and we can’t afford that, particularly now.

“If those people have to be admitted to hospital every weekend then they should pay. Anyone who has been abusing alcohol and can’t stand on their feet and is admitted to hospital at the weekend should pay towards their treatment. Staff are used and abused by these people.

“The services are not there for you to use and abuse. Maybe if we hit them in the pocket it will reduce the numbers who over indulge.

“They should be charged for using an ambulance, if they use an ambulance, and the time staff take to treat them.

“The money could be used to bring back more staff.

“I think it’s important that everyone works together to stop it reaching the high tide mark. We’ve got to find some way of curbing this and stopping young people killing themselves with alcohol.”

Ms Watt said she would be raising the idea of charging drunk people for using accident and emergency units with health secretary Nicola Sturgeon at a meeting on 10 March.