Letter: It's a crisis, not a blip

YOUR LEADER writer cannot be living in the real world of Britain in 1999 (leading article, 10 January).

You describe the present situation in the NHS as "an inevitable small oscillation in the provision of health care". It is nothing of the kind but rather the culmination of a progressive decline in standards. Over the past 40 years, I have been involved in no less than nine emergency admissions to hospitals. My experiences illustrate the decline.

March 1959: Myself (severe abdominal pains). I went straight to the ward and was immediately admitted. Diagnosis and a major operation undoubtedly saved my life.

June 1996: My husband (severely disabled following a stroke in 1972) had a further stroke. Waiting time on trolley: 12 hours. Only the devotion of the overworked nursing and medical staff made it possible for my husband to die with some dignity.

One wonders how some admissions were made possible. Was some bemused inhabitant of a bed sent home at 8pm or was there a convenient death at midnight? I wish you and Frank Dobson could personally experience what it is like to lie on a trolley for hours, often without even a drink of water, unable to go to the toilet. Even to accompany a patient is an ordeal. Relatives or friends, often elderly or infirm themselves, may have to stand for hours.

My experience indicates that the crisis in the NHS is ongoing, exacerbated by the present flu, near-epidemic.

I am now 84 years of age, and I know that I and my contemporaries look forward with apprehension to similar experiences ourselves in the fairly near future. I feel that I and they are entitled to something better.


Woodford Green, Essex