Letter: NHS will be an emergency-only service

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Sir: In the last financial year, hospitals announced that they had run out of money for 'routine' cases in December. This year the same thing is happening in August. Simple calculation would indicate that the beginning of the next financial year will be immediately followed by similar declarations. Virginia Bottomley has commented that closure of services for all but urgent cases is good management. Does she accept the logical extension of this: viz, that soon the NHS will be an 'emergency only' service all year round?

'Routine' patients have illnesses that cause pain and anxiety. Many, if they wait long enough, will become emergencies, with a consequent price in morbidity and mortality. If Mrs Bottomley intends the NHS to become an emergency only service, she should let patients know. If not, she should indicate how she means to tackle the crisis. To hear her telling us that the service has never been better is a nauseating experience for those working within it.

Yours faithfully,


London, NW5