Intended for healthcare professionals


Coping with winter bed crises

BMJ 2000; 320 doi: (Published 12 February 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;320:444

Crises do not just happen in winter

  1. John Heyworth, consultant
  1. Emergency Department, Southampton General Hospital, Southampton SO16 6YD
  2. Derriford Hospital, Plymouth PL6 8DH
  3. Ashford and St Peter's NHS Trust, Chertsey, Surrey KT16 OPZ

    EDITOR—Hanratty and Robinson have provided some valuable suggestions for coping with winter bed crises.1 Unfortunately, however, the title and content serve to reinforce the myth that bed crises are seasonal. Certainly, the pressures are even greater during the winter months, but many accident and emergency departments are overwhelmed throughout the year, with prolonged delays while patients await admission. Recent initiatives have produced only a marginal benefit, and the pressures on medical and nursing staff are unrelenting. Privacy and dignity for patients are lost, and the quality of care inevitably falls.

    The fundamental issue is a failure to accept the impact of the volume and casemix of emergency patients on a health service that is still oriented towards government targets for elective priorities. The situation is unlikely to alter greatly until the inexorable rise is …

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