Accident and Emergency departments in the NHS are facing what may be "our worst winter yet" due to a combination of soaring demand, a shortage of doctors and "toxic" overcrowding on hospital wards, a senior consultant has warned.
Bernadette Garrihy, a member of the board of the College of Emergency Medicine, said doctors were concerned about their ability to provide a "safe and quality service" this winter.
Dr Garrihy said Government measures in trying to deal with the issue amounted to a "drop in the ocean", and called for sweeping changes to help ease the pressure on services.
The senior consultant said part of the problem was caused by people going to casualty departments for problems which could be death with elsewhere and urged patients to consider other options before heading to Accident and Emergency this winter.
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Freezing with some fog patches tonight