Letters: Humpty Dumpty's NHS league tables

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From Mrs Elizabeth Searle

Sir: "When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty told Alice, "it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less." According to the NHS hospital league tables, 93 per cent of patients in casualty departments have been assessed within five minutes of arrival ("Doctors attack 'misleading' hospital ratings", 6 July). "Assessed" is a Humpty Dumpty word.

As a school matron, I spend many hours in our local casualty department. Children are assessed by a nurse on arrival, presumably to determine those who will deteriorate or even die if left to wait. The actual time before they are seen by a doctor is between one and three hours and occasionally longer - as long as six hours.

The aim should be for all patients to be seen by a doctor within 30 minutes. If that were achieved by 93 per cent of hospitals, there would be a genuine cause for congratulation.

Yours truly,

Elizabeth Searle



10 July