NHS bosses have announced plans to amend current A&E targets, which require 95% of patients to be seen within 4 hours. It has been reported by the BBC that the plans for change also include waiting times for cancer, mental health and planned operations.
NHS England have said that “the targets were becoming outdated”, after being introduced in 2004, and have not been met since July 2015. They also noted some concerns that hospitals are motivated more by the target than by what is best for each patient.
The current target treats all patients the same and does not prioritise them based on the severity of their injury, although individual A&E departments have their own methods for prioritising patients.
The new targets will prioritise patients who attend for “heart attacks, acute asthma, sepsis and stoke” with the aim of starting their care within an hour. However, there are concerns that less urgent patients could wait for longer than four-hours to receive treatment. To combat these concerns, NHS England will introduce an average wait recording system to monitor how long patients have to wait to see a senior doctor or nurse.
The new plan is to be piloted this year in the hope that it will be introduced to all A&E departments in 2020, if it is successful. The final decision to remove the 4-hour target will only be made once the pilot has taken place.
Other changes that will also be made include simplifying cancer treatment targets. There are currently 9 separate targets. This will be reduced to only 2 key targets under the new plan. Mental Health services will introduce a target that all who need “urgent crisis care in the community receives it within 24 hours.” There are also hopes of improving waiting times for planned operations, as the current target of 92% of all patients to be seen within 18 weeks has not been met since February 2016.
Moosa-Duke Solicitors are specialists in clinical negligence law. If you believe that you or a family member have been a victim of negligence, due to private or NHS treatment, please do not hesitate to contact us on 0116 254 7456 to discuss your concerns.