The NHS remains under immense pressure. Each part of the system is experiencing demand beyond its capacity, which is continually increasing the problem. This is most vividly illustrated in urgent and emergency care settings. Each winter in the past decade has become slightly worse,2 and that trend, which has not been reversed, has resulted in a dire situation that may not yet have reached its nadir. A continuum of often predictable perfect storms has caused a struggling system to reach collapse, writes Tim Cooksley, immediate past president, Society for Acute Medicine in this BMJ opinion piece.