Are we being distracted by A&E waiting times?

Analysis: Rock-bottom performance at A&Es amid the mildest of winters is a symptom of a wider malaise which Alex Matthews-King argues will not be healed by scrapping the four hour target

Thursday 14 February 2019 19:09
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The four hour target is a reminder there was a time when overflowing waiting rooms were not considered normal
The four hour target is a reminder there was a time when overflowing waiting rooms were not considered normal

A “perfect storm” of flu, tens of thousands of cancelled operations and an actual storm battering the country left no one in any doubt about pressures at the NHS coal face at the start of last year. The winter crisis had barely petered out by August.

That’s why we should be even more shocked that figures released on Thursday revealed performance against the flagship four hour target at A&Es was even worse this winter – falling to a record low last month.

While in January 2018 ambulance crews queued out of hospital carparks and doctors warned of patients “dying prematurely” in corridors, this year there haven’t been such obvious signs of stress.

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