British Hospital Applies for Liquor License

By McCarton Ackerman 07/22/13

But some medical experts say serving booze to patients in hospital beds is "counterintuitive."

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"We have a pinot grigio and a malbec"
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Patients at a hospital in Hampshire, England may soon be able to order a few glasses of wine along with their morphine drip. Basingstoke Hospital has applied for a license to serve alcohol to patients in their beds daily from 10 am - 10 pm. The hospital says it will only serve wine and beer, and only to people being treated in a new private wing of a diagnostic treatment center. They also promise to only distribute alcohol if it is "medically appropriate," and to conduct regular reviews of the new policy. "It is usual practice for private patients to have the option of alcohol with their meals," says Donna Green, chief operating officer of Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Basingstoke. "Patients will be refused alcohol if it is not advisable for them to drink—if they have been given anaesthetic, for instance." But some medical experts and political groups are opposed to the "mixed message" the plan sends about alcohol and health. "It's a hospital, not a hotel," says Jack Cousens, a Labour member of the local authority's well-being committee, who plans to challenge the application. "Selling something which is harmful to health, whether it be alcohol or cigarettes, makes the argument a lot more difficult when you're trying to encourage people to cut down. It's very counter-intuitive."

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.

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