Four-hour A&E target looks set to be scrapped

Simon Stevens has said that a review was considering introducing a set of ‘tougher, faster standards’ for the most urgent cases that arrive at Accident & Emergency departments.

Speaking to the Radio 4 Today programme, the NHS England chief executive said that the flagship four hour A&E waiting-time target was not well understood, saying that people think it’s four hours to start treatment when it is actually four hours to have been assessed, to have your tests done and for the treatment to have been completed, and, if it hasn’t been, for you to be admitted to a hospital in-patient bed.

He went on to say that the problem with the current system is that it ‘doesn’t distinguish between turning up at A&E with a sprained finger versus turning up with a heart attack’.

Details of how the NHS intends to dramatically reduce the number of people dying from big killers, such as cancer, heart attacks and strokes, have been set out in the NHS 10-year plan. Part of this is to ensure that every hospital with a major A&E department has ‘same day emergency care’ in place so that patients can be treated and discharged with the right package of support, without needing an overnight stay.

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