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Some proper planning could ease winter A&E crisis

The headlines scream, 'Crisis in Emergency Departments'. As a very experienced health care manager, there are several aspects of the media stories and the annual difficulties that emergency departments are left to cope with that cause me great upset.

Firstly, this is not an emergency department problem. Emergency departments are left every holiday season to cope with a lack of proper planning.

It is well-known that during the Christmas period attendances are higher and less beds are available. Consequently, I would suggest a few measures are put in place as part of a wider winter plan to prevent this annual disaster for patients and staff:

1. That community services including GPs put extra services and community packages in place, instead of less, to cope with expected demand.

2. That an annual public health campaign be put in place on the proper use of emergency departments. Not to be used for six-month history of headaches or vague abdominal pain caused by excessive eating and drinking.

3. Instead of every year cancelling elective surgery, planning to have emergency only for the peak period.

4. Stop blaming emergency departments who are left with the mess the system is in through lack of planning.

5. That hospitals are given a specific budget for 'winter planning' early in the autumn to put in extra resources that they know will assist with the demand.

My wish is next year it will be different, but somehow I don't think it will!


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