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Clearing up the mess
  1. Geoffrey Hughes
  1. Correspondence to Professor Geoffrey Hughes, Department of Emergency, Royal Adelaide Hospital, Adelaide, SA 5000, Australia; cchdhb{at}

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Emergency departments (EDs) in the UK seemed to hog the news headlines in May and June earlier this year; in the midst of all this welcome publicity the subject of ED overcrowding was on the agenda of the parliamentary Health Committee in the House of Commons, a meeting attended by the President of the College of Emergency Medicine (CEM) in his valedictory piece of work as President.

Several developments triggered this frenzied period, all of them the end point of months, if not years, of steadily accumulated evidence that acute and emergency service provision in the NHS is becoming a monstrous mess. The government, it is fair to say, now has its blinkers off.

The month of May started with a statement by the Care Quality Commission chairman David Prior about the challenges facing EDs. This was followed by some press releases from the CEM that included the following …

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.