This site is intended for health professionals only

Four hour standard at A&E to be relaxed for minor illnesses


10 January 2017

Share this story:
Twitter
LinkedIn

The health secretary has suggested that the four-hour waiting time standard at A&E should be relaxed for those to go to the hospital with minor illnesses.

Speaking to Parliament yesterday, Jeremy Hunt said 30% of people that go to A&E could have been treated somewhere else, adding that that percentage is increasing.

He said: “So if we are going to protect the 4 hour standard, we need to be clear it is a promise to sort out all urgent health problems within 4 hours, but not all health problems however minor.”

The health secretary has suggested that the four-hour waiting time standard at A&E should be relaxed for those to go to the hospital with minor illnesses.

Speaking to Parliament yesterday, Jeremy Hunt said 30% of people that go to A&E could have been treated somewhere else, adding that that percentage is increasing.

He said: “So if we are going to protect the 4 hour standard, we need to be clear it is a promise to sort out all urgent health problems within 4 hours, but not all health problems however minor.”

He added that the UK is the only country to commit to seeing all patients within four hours, with New Zealand, Sweden, Australia and Canada having similar, but less stringent, policies.

His speech, which broadly addressed the Prime Minister’s mental health reforms earlier that day, also touched on pressures facing acute services.

In the days prior to his speech, the British Red Cross declared a “humanitarian crisis” in NHS hospitals after deploying volunteers to help on the wards and in ambulances.

Hunt said last week’s A&E diverts occurred at 19 trusts, including four that are under special measures and “nearly three-quarters of trolley waits occurred in just two trusts”.

The health secretary assured Parliament that the NHS has begun “urgent action” with these trusts by working with leadership and social care in the area.

Hunt also highlighted the rising demand on the NHS with the number of people over 80 rising by 340,000 in six years, while life expectancy has risen by a year over the same time.

Dr Mark Porter, BMA council chair, said the NHS “is at breaking point” and the Government has “failed utterly” to understand the extent of the pressures.

He said: “The government has failed utterly to get to grips with the scale of the problem and we heard nothing in the Health Secretary’s statement which patients and NHS staff will take comfort from.

“We need urgent investment in health and social care, and a long term plan to protect patients who are enduring some of the worst conditions in decades and prevent this from simply getting worse year on year.”

Twitter
LinkedIn