I’ve recently been watching 1986 episodes of the TV drama Casualty. In one, Charlie, the staff nurse in A&E, is outraged that his patients have waited one and a half hours to be treated. Today, we dream of an A&E wait of less than two hours.
The ambulance staff in the programme simply bring their patients into A&E. They are not waiting outside for hours. There are no patients in the corridors. Yes, it is a fictional representation, but it is attempting to reflect the reality of that time. Then, a one-and-a-half-hour wait at A&E was considered chaos. Now, it looks like great service. How far we have fallen.
Let’s look at what we were doing right in the 1980s; we need to go back to what we were doing then.
• Frances Ryan describes the “foreshocks” of the continuing underprovision of the NHS (Want to know the depth of our NHS crisis? Then talk to disabled people needing day-to-day care, 25 January). The original seismic event was the blind implementation of austerity by the 2010 Tory-led government. Entirely predictable aftershocks now threaten the very foundations of the welfare state.