Axed A&E target had ‘no impact’ on care

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A SCRAPPED four-hour waiting time target introduced in accident and emergency departments by the last government was safe and did not impact negatively on care or resources, according to research at The University of Sheffield.

The target mandated that 98 per cent of all A&E patients had to be seen, treated and have left the department within four hours. It was set up to tackle lengthy waiting times and crowding in waiting rooms and the impact that had on standards of care.

But the target has been scrapped by the coalition Government, and from this month will be replaced by a series of measures recording quality of care.

It comes as the university’s School of Health and Related Research revealed the four-hour wait target did not impact on care or resources, nor did it result in more return visits to A&E or deaths.

The research was carried out by Professor Suzanna Mason, from the department, and Prof Ellen Weber, who was at the university on a sabbatical grant from the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine.

Prof Mason said: “We cannot state that the target made care safer or of higher quality. However, based on the aspects of care we studied, we know the target was no worse for patients. Admittedly, the resources put into the old target were huge, so we hope the Government’s new quality indicators can prove effective.”

The pair will now present their findings at the prestigious Society for Academic Emergency Medicine annual meeting in Boston, United States, in June.