Boards Eye View: the truth behind the headlines

Understanding the reality behind the media portrayals of emergency department pressures

As healthcare staff in emergency departments (EDs) dealt with unprecedented patient attendance numbers over the Christmas and New Year period, the British Red Cross declared that the NHS was facing a ‘humanitarian crisis’.

Mike Adamson, chief executive of the charity, said his organisation had been asked to support front-line and ambulance services delivering direct care and assisting with the movement of patients.

The media regularly report on long waits in EDs for hospital beds, sometimes citing 30-hour delays. These reports can be scary and I fear that at least some are done for effect.


In reality, the patient is in a bed, just still in the ED. There, the patient is visited by the specialty receiving doctor, who documents the care they require, writes a prescription and plans the necessary


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