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08.04.19

Fourteen hospitals chosen to pilot new A&E targets

Fourteen hospitals have been chosen to pilot the new “rapid care measures” brought in by the NHS under plans to scrap the flagship four-hour A&E target.

The pilots come as A&E waiting times hit a record low for the second month in a row, with Lord Prior calling the current target system “damaging” and “dysfunctional.” The move has faced criticism from some who claim targets are being scrapped because the NHS can no longer meet them.

The trials will start next month, with the cohort of hospitals representing a “range of geographies and performance against the current A&E standard.”

The new measures will see the sickest cases prioritised instead of attempting to see all patients within four hours, with patients thought to be suffering from heart attacks, acute asthma, sepsis and stroke to have their care started within an hour.

But the “disappointing” new plans have been criticised by the Royal College of Emergency Medicine which warned that having no official deadline for treatment could lead to “crowding and delays in assessments, antibiotics and pain relief” for millions of patients.

The four-hour target, which expects 95% of patients to be seen within the four hours, has not been met since July 2015, with last month’s 84.2% representing the NHS’s “toughest month to date.”

NHS England said that the current target system was distorting priorities and led to a large number of patients being treated minutes before the four-hour mark, “stopping the clock.”

The hospitals that have been chosen for the new rapid care measures are:

  • Cambridge University Hospitals - Chelsea and Westminster Hospital
  • Frimley Health - Imperial College Healthcare
  • Kettering General Hospital
  • Luton and Dunstable University Hospital
  • Mid Yorkshire Hospitals
  • North Tees and Hartlepool
  • Nottingham University Hospitals
  • Plymouth Hospitals
  • Poole Hospital
  • Portsmouth Hospitals
  • Rotherham
  • West Suffolk.

These trusts will trial the four new standards set out in the NHS’s review of clinical standards last month, which includes identifying life-threatening conditions faster, reducing emergency time for critically ill patients, and the main waiting time for all patients.

Other changes set out in the review include new targets for cancer care and planned operations such as hip replacements, but these are not included in the pilot.

NHS England said: “The information we gather through field testing and engagement will inform final recommendations ahead of full implementation beginning spring 2020.”

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