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Matt Morgan: When the problem is urgent and important

BMJ 2020; 368 doi: (Published 17 March 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;368:m1062

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  1. Matt Morgan, intensive care consultant
  1. University Hospital of Wales
  1. mmorgan{at}
    Follow Matt on Twitter: @dr_mattmorgan

Eisenhower said that “what is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.” Breaching a waiting list target—urgent! Celebrity admission to hospital—urgent! But major future events that will almost certainly cause death and disruption, from the climate emergency to pandemic disease? Not urgent. Yet now we have a crisis that’s both urgent and important.

The health systems of many countries are about to face unprecedented demand, in systems that are already under pressure—like a cardiac arrest in a body that already carries the scars of chronic, untreated disease. We may soon face a situation where demand for intensive care exceeds …

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