Health workers marching on the demo for the NHS, 4.3.17, photo Mary Finch

Health workers marching on the demo for the NHS, 4.3.17, photo Mary Finch   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

NHS nurse

NHS England is backing a plan to scrap four-hour A&E waiting time targets ‘within a year’.

The current target is for 95% of patients to be seen at A&E within four hours.

Ditching this will mean that many patients with so-called ‘less serious’ illnesses could be forced to wait for well over four hours – which is already a long time!

The government has previously talked about the idea and doctors warned that getting rid of the target would have a “near-catastrophic impact” on patient safety.

A&E staff have also expressed concerns about triaging – deciding the order in which patients are treated.

But, as I have seen in wards I have worked in, the current targets are already insufficient. Emergency units have not hit the target since July 2015 for example.

In Wales – where the target will not be scrapped – Maelor Hospital in Wrexham in January posted the worst waiting time for an accident and emergency unit in Wales on record. Only 49% of patients where seen in under four hours.

Instead of scrapping A&E targets we need a big increase in staff to meet patient demand.

We demand:

  • Reverse all cuts and privatisation to guarantee the needed funds to meet targets and treat patients
  • Urgently train more NHS staff to work in overstretched wards and hospitals
  • Trade union action to ensure they are paid a real living wage
  • Nationalise all the big companies leeching off the NHS, cancel the PFI ‘debts’
  • Run the NHS under democratic workers’ control as a real public service