Proposed shake up for A&E appointments

It has been reported that patients could have to start booking appointments in A&E units under proposed changes to NHS targets currently being considered by NHS chiefs.

Focused on whether to relax the longstanding obligation to see 95 per cent of A&E patients within four hours, the discussions are also set to analyse the non-urgent surgery target of 18 weeks which is being putting a lot of strain on hospital bosses.

The shake up is based upon the operation of urgent and emergency care services in certain parts of Denmark, which began running a system where all but the most ill patients are expected to ring to make an appointment at an A&E unit in 2014. The adoptions of the system caused complaints over long delays to book over the phone and even misdiagnosis of injuries and illnesses because of lack of contact with a health professional.

The Royal College of Medicine is also critical of the idea, with its president, Dr Taj Hassan, quoted as saying that NHS bosses should focus instead on tackling understaffing, and the threat to patients’ safety posed when hospitals can no longer meet the four-hour target.

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