Intended for healthcare professionals


NHS is to test scrapping the four hour A&E target

BMJ 2019; 364 doi: (Published 12 March 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;364:l1148
  1. Gareth Iacobucci
  1. The BMJ

NHS England is to test plans to scrap the current four hour target for seeing and treating patients in hospital accident and emergency departments, as part of a radical shake up of waiting time standards.

The proposals come out of a clinical review of all current NHS access standards by NHS England’s medical director, Stephen Powis, which assessed how targets might be altered to reflect advances in clinical practice and service delivery since they were first introduced in the 2000s.1 The interim review, published on 11 March, set out a raft of changes to current standards across urgent and emergency care, elective care, cancer care, and mental health, which it says should be tested during 2019-20.

The review proposed replacing the current emergency care targets with five new standards (box 1).

Box 1

Proposed new emergency care targets

  • Time to initial clinical assessment in emergency departments and urgent treatment centres, to “identify life threatening conditions faster”

  • Time to …

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