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A&E waiting times jump after Government scales back target

By Gareth Iacobucci

The Government’s decision to scale back the A&E waiting times target has led to an increase in the proportion of patients waiting longer than four hours to be seen, new figures show.

The move, introduced as part of the coalition’s bonfire of NHS targets alongside the removal of all performance management of the 18-week referral-to-treatment target, reduced the target for the proportion of patients who should be seen within four hours from 98% to 95%. The Government insisted the measures would allow patients to receive treatment when ‘clinically appropriate’.

But NHS bosses in London have now revealed that since the target was removed, A&E performance has dipped to its lowest point in almost two years.

It comes after recent figures from the DH showed that the number of people waiting for diagnostic tests nationally has increased since the scrapping of the 18-week target.

The latest board minutes from NHS London reveal: ‘London has seen deterioration in A&E performance since the introduction of the revised 95% performance standard at 27 June 2010.’

‘Performance at week ending 26 September dropped to its lowest point (96.99%) since January 2009 with 50% of trusts performing below the previous standard of 98% and two trusts below 95%.’

The SHA said it was ‘working closely’ to understand and respond to the drop in performance, and said it was not acceptable for any change to be the result of poor assessment.

It added: ‘Trusts have been advised that any deterioration in performance is expected to only result from clinical situations where the nature of a patient’s condition means that continuing treatment within an A&E department is preferable to admission of a patient. Deterioration in performance should not be the result of a poor assessment and/or treatment process.’

Patients are waiting longer in A&E since the Government eased the four-hour target Patients are waiting longer in A&E since the Government eased the four-hour target NHS London performance report

NHS London performance report

Read the report

To view the board minutes from NHS London revealing a drop in A&E performance please click here.