Letter: All-night NHS

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The Independent Online
Sir: Roy Lilley propounds the idea that 24-hour working would be the saving of the National Health Service ("Politicians won't admit it, but closing hospitals is good for the NHS", 27 May).

Before this notion is taken seriously it would be wise to remember that human beings are diurnal. A mass of research work shows that people are considerably less efficient and effective working at night. Furthermore the chances of dying are greater at night then during daylight because most bodily functions are nocturnally slowed.

Thus if there were 24-hour working in those expensive hospitals, less efficient doctors and nurses would be dealing with more vulnerable patients - a poor formula for improving effectiveness. Human beings are neither computer chips nor Swiss watches that are immune to the time of day or night.

Professor RAINER GOLDSMITH

Egginton, Derbyshire

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