Intended for healthcare professionals

Letters Four hour target in emergency departments

Goodhart’s law: when waiting times became a target, they stopped being a good measure

BMJ 2017; 359 doi: (Published 27 November 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;359:j5425
  1. S Michael Crawford, clinical lead for research
  1. Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, Keighley BD20 6TD, UK
  1. s.m.crawford{at}

At the beginning of this century, Tony Blair, then prime minister, announced that health expenditure would be increased. This was met with expressions of concern from the Treasury. I have a clear recollection of Alan Milburn, then secretary of state for health, telling a television news reporter …

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