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20
Mar

Realistic funding is necessary to hit the A&E target


Speaking at the Reform healthcare conference on March 9, the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, told NHS Trusts that the four-hour waiting target for A&E should be hit next year after new funding was announced in the spring Budget.

The call came as a joint letter from NHS Improvement and NHS England confirmed that Trusts would be expected to return to the 95% by March 2018.

Responding to the Health Secretary’s comments, Chief Executive of NHS Providers, Chris Hopson says: "Despite the best efforts of NHS Trusts, performance against the 95% A&E target has declined rapidly over the last few years and that decline has been speeding up, due to the record levels of extra demand. Figures published this morning show that in January this year, performance for type 1 major A&E units was 77.6%.

"NHS Trusts will do all they can to meet the 95% standard but will need very significant extra investment in 2017/18 if they are to do so. We can't, at this point, see where that money will come from.

“While the extra £100 million to support A&E performance improvement announced in the Budget is welcome, it's a fraction of what is needed to preserve the existing level of performance, let alone dramatically improve performance to hit the 95% target.

“Given how far we are currently behind the target and how much lower NHS funding increases will be in 2017/18 we think it is unrealistic to expect Trusts as a whole to meet the 95% A&E target within a year.

“NHS Trusts have led the way in innovating to free-up bed capacity. They have also worked closely with partners in the care system to help manage demand for A&E. But we do recognise there are variations in performance which need to be addressed. That’s why we’ve been calling for a review of winter pressures – to examine what has worked well this winter and see where improvements can be made for next time.

“We need NHS leaders to commit to this. Don Berwick has highlighted the central importance of the NHS becoming a learning organisation. Learning means a structured review listening to those who actually deliver front line care and allowing them to contribute to the development of new approaches.”

The four-hour waiting target for A&E has not been met since July 2015.

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