Intended for healthcare professionals

Personal Views Personal views

Has humanity disappeared from the NHS?

BMJ 2000; 320 doi: (Published 27 May 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;320:1483
  1. Anthony Toft, consultant physician
  1. Edinburgh

    It was Monday 27 December 1999, when I was the first on-call physician for the acute medical admissions unit at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh; it was to be the busiest day of the year.

    There were heroic efforts from many staff in containing what seemed to be a tidal wave of patients—most of whom were seriously ill. Paradoxically, I enjoyed the 24 hour period, unencumbered by the usual other clinical commitments. It was like the “good old days” when doctors and nurses worked together rather than in parallel.

    I sense a climate of fear in the NHS, preventing the admission of inadequacies in the service

    The next day there was a sense of elation: every patient was in a bed. But as I visited the new patients scattered throughout the hospital it became clear that many had not been clerked, many were not in appropriate beds, many had been moved on more than one occasion, and some of that boarding had been instigated by bed managers against medical advice.

    My experience was not …

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