Shortchanged future of the NHS

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From Mr H. E. Johannsson

Sir: Thank you for your balanced reporting of the crisis in the NHS since the implementation of the Government's health reforms. With regard to Ron Kerr's letter (7 March), where he outlines the need to get the right place for the right bed, I find it strange to think that the area where the crisis is at its worst, namely East London is the area where most of the bed closures have been. The Homerton hospital in Hackney has been continually full, with Accident and Emergency waits exceeding 6 hours, and yet St Bartholomew's Hospital is gradually being wittled down, exacerbating the crisis.

At the same time, your article on doctor staffing levels in the NHS (6 March) makes the point very clearly that doctors are leaving the NHS in droves, either as consultants to take early retirement, or as junior doctors out of sheer exhaustion. This will in time lead to a shortage of doctors across the board - already seen in accident and emergency departments - and especially a lack of consultants, meaning that eventually, the Government's reforms will lead to a situation similar to that reigning in dentistry, where it will be well nigh impossible to get on to a consultant's NHS list, the only alternative being to go privately. We might then end up with an NHS GP-only arrangement, where consultants operate outside it.

Yours faithfully,

H. E. JOHANNSSON

Student Doctor

St Bartholomew's Hospital

London, EC1

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