The Clinically led review of urgent and emergency care standards – published by NHS England – has been welcomed by patients, clinicians, and the public. The new standards set out proposals for a new set of indicators for urgent care.
The idea behind the updated standards was to recognise what was clinically important to patients, as well as aiming to end hidden waiting times, whilst reducing the spread of Covid-19.
The standards set out a bundle of 10 measures, looking at reducing avoidable trips, the amount of NHS 111 contacts receiving clinical input, and the percentage of patients spending more than 12 hours in A&E, including assessing patients within 15 minutes.
The majority of respondents (80%) welcomed the bundle of measures rather than a single measure, to understand how well an urgent and emergency care system is doing.
The review explains how changing the measures for urgent and emergency care could reflect a change in how people expect to access care, and enable the ongoing improvements in how that care is received.
Professor Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director, said: “Since the previous standards were introduced in 2004, there have been many innovations in urgent treatment and care, so it is right we listen to patients, the public and other experts to ensure NHS services deliver what matters most to patients, as well as what is most important clinically.”
Nine tenths of respondents supported patients receiving an initial assessment within 15 minutes of arrival at A&E, and more than two thirds supported the request for NHS 111 calls to receive clinical input.
Other healthcare organisations have also supported the new standards, including the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, the Patients Association, Healthwatch England, NHS Confederation, Mind, and the College of Paramedics.
Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges said: “The results of this consultation underpin what the medical royal colleges have long argued, our patients want more accessible and appropriately targeted urgent and emergency care.
“These proposals, which set out better ways to measure what is happening, are long overdue. We now need to see all these new indicators fully adopted so that doctors and their teams are supported to deliver the right care at the right time and in the right setting.”
Danny Mortimer, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: ‘The NHS is absolutely focused on improving the services it offers our patients, and the development of these new standards has been built through engagement with our members and their clinical teams.
“There is widespread agreement amongst our members on the need for significant change to the existing standards and we look forward to working with NHS England to fully understand what additional support will made available to the health service in order to implement these new indicators, and to help managers and clinicians continue to deliver excellent patient care.”
The review’s findings summarised recommendations, and developed them in consultation with an expert advisory group, drawing on testing by NHS trusts and the experiences of delivering urgent and emergency care during the first year of the pandemic. The consultation on the standards ran from December to February, receiving 354 responses from the public and stakeholder groups.