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‘Four-hour rush’ continuing at top A&Es

Hospital trusts are still treating many patients just before the four-hour A&E target deadline, whose proposed abolition was reversed by government last week, HSJ analysis has revealed. 

Several of those still treating large proportions of attenders in the 10 minutes before the cut-off are among the top performers on the target.

NHS England’s 2019 clinical review of standards had proposed to scrap the four-hour target, claiming it was no longer the most appropriate or effective measure. NHSE had planned to replace it with a new bundle of measures, such as the average time spent in emergency departments. It has been trialling these at 14 trusts for more than two years, with enforcement of the four-hour target by NHSE being substantially wound down.

The move to end use of the four-hour target was never officially endorsed by government, but both Matt Hancock and Sajid Javid indicated they backed the idea. However, their successor as health and social care secretary, Therese Coffey, announced that she would not be abolishing it.

Royal College of Emergency Medicine president elect Adrian Boyle warned this “target-associated” patient flow could be “diverting clinicians away from more sick cases to people with lower acuity”. He added “the scrutiny and managerial grip that used to go with [the target]” has been “taken away”.

Read full story (paywalled)

Source: HSJ, 27 September 2022


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