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How to fix the health crisis : Simples!

January 16, 2020 2:37 PM

We reported the appalling NHS A&E waiting times for December recently. It appears the Government now has a cunning plan to fix the problem

Matt Hancock has signalled that four-hour waiting targets for A&E are likely to be scrapped for the NHS in England!

The Health Secretary said it would be better if targets were "clinically appropriate" and the "right targets", as he defended the NHS's failure to meet the standard that 95% of patients attending A&E should be admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours.

Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live, Hancock said: "We will be judged by the right targets. Targets have to be clinically appropriate. The four-hour target in A&E - which is often taken as the top way of measuring what's going on in hospitals - the problem with that target is that increasingly people are treated on the day and are able to go home. It's much better for the patient and also better for the NHS and yet the way that's counted in the target doesn't work.

"It's far better to have targets that are clinically appropriate and supported by clinicians."

Last year, Dr Taj Hassan, the president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said: "In our expert opinion scrapping the four-hour target will have a near-catastrophic impact on patient safety in many emergency departments that are already struggling to deliver safe patient care in a wider system that is failing badly."

You are left with the concern that what is really going on is that the Government is embarrassed by current performance , has no real plan to address it and so wishes to change targets to hide the fact. There may be a case for having a target for focussing on critical cases but this risks having people with serious illnesses being re categorised to ensure targets are hit and some people deemed non critical being asked to wait way beyond 4 hours to be seen

Rather than change targets maybe the focus should be on improving GP services so appointments are easier and people don't feel the only way they can get treatment is to go to A&E

Furthermore fiddling with the 4 hour target does not address the issue of thousands of patients forced to wait in corridors and on trolleys because beds cannot be found for them after assessment at A&E.