NHS A&E target “risks patient safety”

The BBC website reports what the chairman of the College of Emergency Medicine, Dr John Heyworth recently said about the 4 hour waiting target,

“We’ve had nurses reduced to tears. We’ve had very senior consultants in emergency medicine threatened with a disciplinary process.

“This is an outrageous misuse of the standard.”

That this is being said is no surprise, the thing that causes one to wonder is that while similar things are said so often, by so many different people, that still the people in power don’t listen.

Though the College of Emergency Medicine still has a way to go since it says that it still ‘supports targets in principle’.

I have noticed that it is the people who are close to the work that put up the biggest case against targets. There is a correlation between those who study the work and those who disagree with targets. I have never met anyone who has properly understood the work done in their organisation that subsequently still thinks that targets should stay.

It is interesting to note the comment from the Department of Health spokesperson:

“Patient safety and good quality care should always take priority over administrative targets where a doctor believes that is necessary.”

Surely it shouldn’t need a doctor to believe it to be necessary. I would hope that from the Chief Executive of the trust right down to the rookie cleaner, that care would take priority over administrative targets. In fact, care should take priority over everything.

The fact that they feel the need to make these statements and then still show the whole world that they haven’t got the focus right is what is holding back government from freeing the NHS to make its own local innovations that would give world class patient care but would also improve performance and save money. The first step to doing that is replacing all targets with measures that patients care about.

I have written about A&E targets before:

Targets in A&E make people cheat
A&E targets distort behaviour
More on 4 hour target in A&E

Best,

Rob

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