'Adversity fuels learning faster than most other things'

It is a cold fact that adversity fuels learning faster than most other things. So it is with the bombings on London's transport network on 7 July last year.

As the first anniversary approaches, the London Assembly has confirmed what HSJfirst reported just a week afterwards that the emergency services were hampered in their response by flawed communications systems.

As we wrote at the time: 'On-scene crews had difficulty communicating with central command, who in turn faced problems contacting the rest of the NHS.' The lack of digital radio systems meant that some ambulance crews had to resort to mobile phones to contact hospitals. The London Ambulance Service has now accepted that it was the victim of 'communications difficulties'.

It was not the only process and technology shortcoming exposed by the London bombings. The need for radio systems and facilities allowing them to work underground was highlighted after the King's Cross fire 18 years ago. And the Department of Health produced a strategy setting out the need for digital systems in 2000.

It is good news that LAS is expecting 200 sets of digital radio equipment next week, with full roll-out by next May. But the fact remains that the emergency services should have had a better system at their disposal last year.