Throughout the country fully operational medical wards have been closed down wholesale in a desperate attempt to balance the books. Acutely ill patients then have to be admitted to whichever wards they can be squeezed into, and the unfortunate medical team on call finds itself with patients dispersed throughout the hospital.
Meanwhile the 'quality' component of contracts negotiated by general practitioner fund-holders and district health authorities is limited to hardly life-threatening details such as waiting time in outpatients. The patients are frequently waiting in the clinics because their doctors are on the wards trying to locate and treat the inpatients for whom they are simultaneously responsible.
The 'purchaser-provider' split so fundamental to the health service reforms has done nothing to address these long-standing problems. The expense of administering the reforms and the diversion of resources elsewhere has contributed to the crisis faced by the acute medical services.
C. D. HOLDSWORTH