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West Suffolk Hospital chosen to pilot new A&E targets

PUBLISHED: 12:12 05 April 2019 | UPDATED: 15:16 05 April 2019

West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds Picture: GREGG BROWN

West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds Picture: GREGG BROWN

West Suffolk Hospital is one of 14 nationally that has been picked to trial new A&E targets, which could see patients with the most serious conditions receiving treatment within an hour.

Hospitals at the selected sites will begin testing from May before wider implementation in spring next year, NHS England said.

A series of pilots were announced by the body last month, including possible changes to targets for A&E, cancer and planned operations.

Under the new plans for emergency care, patients with the most serious conditions will receive rapid treatment within an hour, while people with minor conditions can expect to wait longer.

At present, all A&E patients should be seen within four hours, but the target has not been hit since July 2015.

Dr Stephen Dunn CBE, chief executive of the West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We’re pleased to have been selected to test the proposed new standards for urgent and emergency care here at West Suffolk Hospital [in Bury St Edmunds].

“Last summer the Prime Minister asked the NHS to undertake a clinical review of the current targets, including the four-hour emergency access standard. The aim is to update these targets in line with advances in clinical practice, and what patients say matters most to them.

“The proposed standards cover things like the time it takes for a patient to be initially assessed, critically ill and injured patients being treated within the first hour, and the average overall time spent in the emergency department.

“We will be working with our staff, NHS England and NHS Improvement to design how this might work here, with the new measurements expected to come into play in May and be trialled for somewhere between six and eight weeks.”

The hospital trusts leading testing of the proposed targets for urgent and emergency care are:

•West Suffolk

•Cambridge University Hospitals

•Chelsea and Westminster Hospital

•Frimley Health

•Imperial College Healthcare

•Kettering General Hospital

•Luton and Dunstable University Hospital

•Mid Yorkshire Hospitals

•North Tees and Hartlepool

•Nottingham University Hospitals

•Plymouth Hospitals

•Poole Hospital

•Portsmouth Hospitals

•Rotherham

The proposals have faced criticism from some, who say the targets are being abandoned because they can no longer be met.

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine has previously warned that scrapping the four-hour A&E target would have “a near-catastrophic impact on patient safety”.

NHS England said: “The information we gather through field testing and engagement will inform final recommendations from this review, and ahead of full implementation beginning spring 2020.”

The hospitals trialling other new proposed targets have not yet been announced.

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