Therese Coffey has pledged there will be no changes to the four-hour target for A&E waiting times – despite NHS England’s prolonged bid to axe the controversial measure.
The new health and social care secretary told the House of Commons Thursday: “I can absolutely say there will be no changes to the target for four-hour waits in A&E.”
Ms Coffey’s comments appear to represent a major blow to NHS England, which has since 2019 been pushing for a new bundle of metrics to replace the target.
Fourteen trusts have been trialling these, which include measures such as average time spent in an emergency department and 12-hour waits from time of arrival, as part of the Clinical Review of Standards.
NHSE had also, after a protracted battle, secured the support of key stakeholders, including the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, NHS Providers and Heathwatch England, to back its plans to ditch the target, for so long the NHS’s most significant performance metric.
The bold position – with Ms Coffey just weeks into the role – also contradicts the stance taken by both recent predecessors Sajid Javid and Matt Hancock, who both signalled they were supportive of scrapping the target.
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Source: HSJ, 22 September 2022