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A&E target revisions must not compromise patient safety as BMA warns emergency care at ‘breaking point’

Responding to Matt Hancock’s admission that A&E waiting time targets are likely to be scrapped, BMA emergency medicine lead Dr Simon Walsh said: 

 “Whatever way you look at the state of emergency care, the picture is bad. Against the current four-hour target, the emergency care system has been woefully underperforming despite the extraordinary efforts of frontline staff with the most recent figures highlighting that emergency departments had their worst month on record in December. 

 “It is crucial that any proposed changes to current targets are agreed with clinicians to ensure that patient safety is not compromised.  This needs to be properly evaluated and should only take place if backed by evidence from the recent pilots to ensure improvements to patient care and maintenance of safety are the central objectives. 

 “Targets are an important indicator when services are struggling, and there is a very real concern that any change to targets will effectively mask underperformance and the effects of the decisions that politicians make about resourcing the NHS.  

 “Ultimately, replacing targets does not address the fundamental issues of capacity and resourcing within the NHS and the resulting pressure that has led to such poor performance in emergency departments in recent years. The emergency care system is at breaking point and this, above all else, must be addressed.”


Notes to editors

The BMA is a trade union representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.

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