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Hancock says four-hour waiting target for A&E may be scrapped

Health secretary Matt Hancock (pictured) says the four-hour waiting targets for A&E is likely to be scrapped for the NHS in England, after the institution’s worst-ever figures were recorded this winter.

Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live, Hancock defended the NHS’s performance even though hospital-based A&Es only managed to admit, transfer or discharge 68.6% of arrivals within four hours last month. 

According to The Guardian, that was the smallest percentage in any month since the target was created in 2004.

Asked if the target would stay, Hancock said: “We will be judged by the right targets. Targets have to be clinically appropriate. The problem with the four-hour target is that increasingly people are treated on the day and are able to go home. It’s much better for the patient and also better for the NHS and yet the way that’s counted in the target doesn’t work.”

However, Labour's shadow health secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, said eradicating waiting targets “won’t magic away the problems in our overcrowded hospitals, with patients left on trolleys in corridors for hours and hours.'”

Though the government has promised an additional £33.9 billion for the NHS by 2023-24, and enshrined this into law yesterday with the NHS Funding Bill, the amount pledged still represents a below-average increase, according to the BBC.

The NHS’s spending power has increased by 4% a year, on average, since it was founded in 1945. 

Under the Conservatives annual spending on the NHS between 2010 and 2018 increased by just 1.3% on average. The government’s recently announced plans would see it increase by just 3.4% each year until 2023-24.

Posted on: 16/01/2020

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