Fatal flaw in four-hour A&E waiting time target for NHS – Yorkshire Post Letters

A&E targets are in the spotlight.
A&E targets are in the spotlight.
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From: Max Moullin, Director, Public Sector Scorecard Research Unit, Sheffield.

THE Government’s proposal to scrap the four-hour A&E target does appear to be a cynical approach (The Yorkshire Post, January 16 and 17) towards scrutiny of its record when it comes to the National Health Service.

How should NHS waiting times be measured?

How should NHS waiting times be measured?

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The A&E target has its problems. Indeed there are problems with all targets. My view is that all targets are flawed, but some are useful.

The A&E target is no exception.

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It does not measure outcomes or the whole patient experience.

However, given that people don’t like spending over four hours in a hospital casualty department when they are 
often in pain and anxious 
about what will happen to 
them, it is not an irrelevant target and may be useful as 
one measure of NHS performance.

Recent data confirms that the proportion of people waiting over four hours at major A&E departments in England has risen from less than five per cent to over 30 per cent since 2011 – a sixfold increase.

The priority for the Government, at this time, is to address this problem and then decide what to do about the target.