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Editorials

Winter all year round in the emergency department

BMJ 2018; 363 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.k4438 (Published 25 October 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;363:k4438
  1. Tajek B Hassan, president1,
  2. Simon Judkins, president2
  1. 1Royal College of Emergency Medicine, London, UK
  2. 2Australasian College for Emergency Medicine, Melbourne, Australia
  1. Correspondence to: T B Hassan President{at}rcem.ac.uk
    @RCEMpresident

Protecting patient safety is the top priority

“Winter all year round” has become a recurring descriptor for the increasing pressures facing emergency care systems in the UK. These pressures are heightened as we approach winter. The UK is not alone in experiencing these pressures. In Australia, for example, the weather may be better but crowded hospitals and emergency departments are equally common.1 The consequences in both these high income countries are ambulance queues, patients in crowded emergency department corridors, and staff trying to maintain the safety and dignity of patients, often with unsustainable working practices.

The challenges of increasing demand, complex multimorbidity, an ageing population, cuts in hospital bed capacity, and a long term failure to meet the rising needs of community social care are the elephants in a crowded room. They have yet to be fully acknowledged or tackled by policy makers.2 The situation has steadily worsened in the UK since red flags were raised in 2015 when Chris Ham, chief executive of the King’s …

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