LETTER: A&E wards: conditions that take a toll on doctors' morale

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From Mr Hugh J. Thomson

Sir: The crisis of beds and staffing in the NHS in recent days has been precipitated by a dramatic increase in the number of emergency admissions, and the reason for this is not clear. What is clear is that many of the difficulties in responding to this crisis result from the changes in the health service over the past few years.

The NHS is being turned into a National Health Business. To run a business successfully there must be no slack in the system: every employee and every piece of equipment need to be working to the limit. This is not so when it comes to people's health. There are epidemics and accidents, emergencies and uncertainties. There has to be a spare capacity to cope with the unpredictability of dealing with human beings and their distress.

If the Government will not learn this lesson, the present crisis will be repeated again and again.


Hugh J. Thomson

Consultant Surgeon


11 January