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A&E crisis is back to square 111.

ACCIDENT and emergency units are in crisis, and the surge in patients which comes with winter has hardly begun.

The Government's response has been to do what it always does when faced by the consequences of its own brutal cuts. It panics, which means coming up with a new plan every few days.

The latest is to put more emphasis on the 111 helpline. That would be a joke if it wasn't going to lead to lives being put at risk.

One of the Coalition's first actions was to scrap the NHS Direct phone service, which was working well. It fired the nurses and medical staff who had been answering calls and replaced them with cheap untrained people. So the 111 service was born, with staff parroting instructions from computer screens.

UNDERSTAFFED As if that wasn't bad enough, the Sunday Mirror today reveals that even this poor service will get worse over the critical Christmas period, when it will be chronically understaffed.

There can be no disputing that there is an A&E crisis. But it needs to be tackled by people who know what they are talking about and have experienced at first-hand the pressures at the sharp end of the NHS.

Politicians should keep out of it - particularly Jeremy Hunt, who knows even less about the health service than his predecessor Andrew Lansley, the minister who wasted PS3billion on a pointless reorganisation.

You can be sure a proper plan for A&E won't include putting even more pressure on the failed 111 service.
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Title Annotation:Editorial
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Nov 17, 2013
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