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Coffey accused of leaving NHS 'in limbo' on A&E target

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The four-hour emergency care target is “not the right answer” long term, but services have been left “in limbo” by Therese Coffey’s promise that it will no longer be scrapped, the president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine has said.

Katherine Henderson said RCEM was “delighted” there could be more focus on the four-hour target in the short term following the health and social care secretary’s surprise comment last week, as emergency care has been “in a performance policy vacuum since before the pandemic”.

But Dr Henderson said that in the long term there should be performance metrics that account for the “journey” of the most acutely unwell patients, and should be a further review of NHS England’s clinical review of standards – which proposed a suite of new measures to replace the totemic four-hour target. She added that more than a dozen A&Es which are involved in trialling the new measures have been “left in limbo”.

Dr Henderson, whose term as RCEM president ends in October, said plans to use virtual wards and urgent community response teams to improve patient flow and prevent emergency admissions would have limited impact this winter due to a lack of staff.

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Source: HSJ, 26 September 2022

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