Ambulance service bosses last night hailed their pioneering "drunk tank" initiative a success, with paramedics treating 140 patients at their festive clinic in Birmingham.

On New Year's Eve alone, St John Ambulance volunteers and medics from the Central Accident Resuscitation team treated 50 people for minor injuries, the vast majority of which were alcohol-related.

A temporary medical centre was set up in an office building on Broad Street for the Friday, Saturday and Monday before Christmas Day and New Year's Day to treat patients between 8pm and 4am.

But doctors and nurses worked until 6am yesterday on the busiest night of the scheme.

The pilot scheme was an attempt to alleviate pressure on A&E units across Birmingham and allow hospitals to treat more severely injured or sick patients rather than deal with drink-related injuries.

Emergency 999 calls to West Midlands Ambulance Service were up by 38 per cent between midnight and 5am yesterday as operators took 1,420 calls compared with 1,022 in the same period last year.

Most of these were alcohol-related, including people falling over and injuring themselves, as well to brawls outside the region's bars and clubs.

This was the first time the ambulance trust had used a temporary base as part of their seasonal contingency plans, and bosses will now evaluate its impact before deciding whether to repeat it for 2008.

The exact location was not made public amid fears medics and volunteers would be inundated with drunk revellers and time-wasters who needed nothing more than a taxi home.

Anthony Marsh, the trust's chief executive, said: "The temporary minor injury unit was a great success. Over the six nights it was running, 140 patients were treated who would have normally gone to hospital."

West Midlands Police praised revellers for celebrating responsibly.