Professor Derek Bell OBE, President of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, said:

We think that the four-hour A&E waiting time target is an important barometer of NHS hospital performance in England. Care must be taken to ensure that a move to shake up this performance measurement doesn’t result in the slipping of standards and the regression of patient care. A key question is whether the pilot schemes will ensure that patients are treated by the right person, at the right time, and in the right care environment. The data from the trials must be examined closely to determine what patient outcomes will be should the policy be implemented more widely.

Demand for acute care services is outstripping the capacity to deliver services in virtually all developed health services across the world. Indeed all UK health systems are struggling to meet this growing demand. This challenge, when combined with UK-wide financial restrictions, has led to performance problems in emergency and elective acute care.

Paul Gillen

Contact: Paul Gillen 0131 247 3658