A&E Four-Hour Target to End?

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Recently it was announced that the NHS are scrapping waiting times targets for A&E.  It is said on the basis that the targets themselves might mean that urgent cases are not being prioritised over the less-urgent.  The cynics amongst us say this is down to the fact that the targets are not being met.

It is not just in A&E where targets are slipping, this is happening with GP referrals too.  This affects mainly what the NHS considers ‘non-urgent’ cases.  This would include hip and knee replacements, cataract surgery and hernias.  The NAO (National Audit Office) reported last week that 44% of hospital Trusts have failed to reach the target.

The target is 18 weeks referral to treatment.  The target is expected to be hit in 92% of cases but Trusts have consistently failed to do so with the target being met in just 86.7% of cases this January. In fact the target hasn’t been met since February 2016.

So what is behind this?  The NAO is critical that health chiefs have not addressed the problem and call upon them to take urgent action.  We can see from the statistics that patient demand has increased (number of people treated each month has increased from 1.2 million to 1.3 million between March 2013 and November 2018) but at the same time cuts are being made to available beds: 81,000 beds have been lost since 2010.  Patients who have been discharged from hospital are being readmitted more frequently than in the past – is this down to the increased pressure on beds?

So what is the implication to patient safety?  The NAO point out that 40% of medical negligence claims arise from delays in treatment and diagnosis.  There is concern that the rise in delays will cause avoidable harm and create a knock-on effect to an increase in claims.

More investment is required to address the problems and provide an NHS fit for the 21st Century.  An NHS spokesman said “As the additional funding to help deliver NHS long-term plan becomes available in April, local health groups are being allocated the money they need to increase the amount of operations and other care they provide, to cut long waits.”

Our Medical Negligence Team

Our Medical Negligence Solicitors Liverpool have dealt with numerous cases involving delays which have caused harm to our clients. The reasons are multi-factorial but tend to involve urgent cases such as delayed diagnosis of cancer; delayed diagnosis of cardiac conditions; delayed diagnosis of ruptured Achilles tendon to name just a few.

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If you feel you may have been mistreated medically, or if someone you care about has, please contact our dedicated team on 0151 282 1700 for a confidential chat with a legal expert.

April 15, 2019 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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