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Emergency Medicine: let’s feed the good wolf
  1. Charles Reynard1,2,
  2. Govind Oliver1,2,
  3. Tajek Hassan3,
  4. Richard Body1,2
  1. 1 Emergency Department, Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, Manchester, UK
  2. 2 Division of Cardiovascular Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK
  3. 3 Emergency Medicine, Royal College of Emergency Medicine, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Charles Reynard, Emergency Department, Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Manchester M13 9WL, UK; charlie.reynard{at}

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Emergency Medicine in the UK is under enormous pressure. Every member of the multidisciplinary team will be aware of the current climate within the National Health Service and have felt its effects in some capacity. Individuals, teams and departments are stretched to the limit dealing with increasing numbers of, and sicker, patients. Our patients are subjected to long waits on trolleys and waiting times have deteriorated as hospitals fill but our doors remain open. Missed targets and upsetting stories are frequently highlighted in the media. The cumulative effect on staff facing these challenges on a daily basis can be substantial, leading to high rates of burnout and compassion fatigue. This can, at times, create an overwhelmingly negative atmosphere. Patient safety is paramount during our current challenges, but we would like to discuss the importance of our own narrative and the choice we have in whether and how much we feed the bad wolf and the opportunity to feed the good wolf.

Tale of two wolves

The tale of two wolves is a Native American Cherokee legend in which it is described that there are two wolves duelling inside each of us. One wolf is virtuous, displaying kindness, …

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  • Twitter @tajekbhassan, @richardbody

  • Contributors As per the international committee of medical journal editors, I can confirm that each author met each of the following criteria: substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content; final approval of the version to be published; agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests TH is the former president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.