The articles in the Observer in December about Nancy Hadley and Johnny Young reminded me of an article published eight years ago about another patient facing similar problems in our hospital.
The problems facing those in need of long-term care remain the same and appear to be getting worse. The focus of management continues to be the bed and 100 per cent occupancy rates, rather than the needs of the patient occupying the bed. It is my contention that we need to create a temporary holding unit where long-term care needs can be assessed without the pressures inherent in the acute care setting. It should have enough capacity to cope with the peaks of the patient load. This means that there will be empty beds most of the time and therefore the unit has to be publicly funded. Privately operated facilities have to run as close as possible to 100 per cent occupancy to ensure viability. One result of having a unit like this would be in improved utilization in the various aspects of acute care but of equal importance it would provide a more acceptable initial management of the needs of people like Nancy Hadley and Johnny Young.