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Letter: NHS 2000 bug

Sir: Last weekend was marked by a number of television programmes encouraging people to attempt to conceive so that they may be the first parents of a child born in the new millennium.

The National Health Service will be more stretched than ever before at the end of this year and the beginning of the next. Temporary extensions to casualty departments are being planned, along with additional resources for operating theatres and intensive care units. Our equipment and supplies may be jeopardised by the failure of microprocessor-based equipment. It is therefore wholly irresponsible of television stations to encourage a "baby boom" at this time.

The only scandal which exceeds this is that of the health purchasing authorities, who expect the additional workload for the millennium to be absorbed in the budget for the financial year, with no reduction in elective activity - varicose veins, hip replacements and so on. The additional workload for a consultant in the health service for the period in question is the equivalent of an extra 28 days. Who will pay for this?


Consultant Anaesthetist with responsibility for Obstetric Anaesthesia

West Suffolk Hospital

Bury St Edmunds