A CITY council health chief has given his backing to calls for 'drunk tanks' to become the norm in towns and cities across the country.

Dave Shields, the city council's cabinet member for health and community safety, says he would welcome a chance to work with partner agencies to keep drunk revellers out of A&E.

It comes after the head of the NHS in England, Simon Stevens, described revellers who overindulge and divert the attention of medical staff from emergency work as "selfish".

Mr Stevens said he would take the opportunity over new years to closely monitor mobile 'drunk tank' units, currently in operation in cities such as Southampton.

Commenting on the health chief's calls, councillor Shields said: "Having run the In Case of Emergency (ICE) Bus in Southampton for several years, the council fully recognises the benefits of working in partnership to provide on-site care to New Year's Eve party-goers to take some of the strain off emergency services.

"As part of our alcohol awareness activity, we welcome the opportunity to work with colleagues in the police, the NHS and voluntary sector partners, such as Southampton Street Pastors, to arrive at a solution that ensures A&E services are used by those who really need them."