Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh defends four-hour A&E targets

Written by Tom Freeman on 12 January 2017 in News

Body of hospital doctors defends existing accident and emergency targets after UK Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt hints at change

A&E sign

A&E - credit Lydia

Targets which require accident and emergency departments across the UK to treat patients within four hours should be maintained, the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (RCPE) has warned.

A 4 hour target of 98 per cent of visits was adopted by the Scottish Government after it was shown to have an impact in England but was later reduced to 95 per cent as emergency departments struggled to cope. 

UK Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt cast doubt on its future south of the border this week when he told MPs the target may need to be revised. 


Scotland must move away from ‘fix and treat’ NHS, says government delivery plan

Outpatients to be shifted from hospitals

"If we are going to protect our four-hour standard, we need to be clear it is a promise to sort out all urgent health problems within four hours - but not all health problems, however minor," he said.

However RCPE defended the existing arrangements, describing them as "an important measure of the whole system response to care", warning watered down targets could lead to more overcrowding in hospitals. 

RCPE president Professor Derek Bell said Hunts comments were not supported by evidence. 

“Not measuring those patients ‘perceived to have less significant illness’ will not remove them from the system," he said.

"There is the potential to create different classes of patient and make it harder for those who may have difficulty making their voices heard – for example, the elderly, the vulnerable and those with mental health problems. It may also lead to overcrowding and increase the workloads of staff at night when staffing levels are lower, with the risk of compromising care."

Bell also praised a Scottish Government initiative aimed at improving patient journeys through unscheduled care, suggesting NHS England could adopt something similar.

“In Scotland emergency departments have consistently performed better than other parts of the UK over the last 18 months. While they are also experiencing the same winter pressures, including recent difficulties meeting the four hour target, they will recover from these more quickly. This is in part due to the re-introduction of the National Programme, ‘Six Essential Actions to Improving Unscheduled Care’."




Related Articles

pills - credit Jamie/FlickrCC Lack of awareness in pharmacy services, reveals Citizens’ Panel report
24 March 2017

First Citizens' Panel report from the Scottish Health Council reveals a lack of public awareness of what a pharmacist can offer

Doctor performing test medical research Pay offer for doctors and nurses is ‘real-terms cut’
24 March 2017

NHS Scotland staff hear their wages will increase by one per cent for the fourth year in a row

Shona Robison speaking at Digital Health and Care 2017 Leadership not technology is the missing link in digital health and social care
21 March 2017

Holyrood's Digital Health and Care conference examples of good practice, but there was a sense that more leadership is needed to drive change

Surgery Mesh implant review expert resigns
16 March 2017

Calls for Shona Robison to update MSPs after another resignation hits review of mesh implants

Share this page