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A&E departments meet four-hour government target

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NHS staff have been praised for their ‘hard work’ in helping to meet the government’s four-hourly A&E waiting target during the last financial year.

According to Department of Health figures published on Friday, 98.1% of patients spent four hours or less from arrival in A&E to admission, transfer or discharge in the year ending March 2009.

In 2007-2008, the figure was 97.9% - just short of the 98% minimum standard set by the government in 2003.

The target has been met despite the number of people attending A&E continuing to rise, the department said. In 2008-2009, 19.6 million people went to A&E, a 2.4% increase on the previous year.

Health minister Ben Bradshaw, said: ‘This is a tremendous achievement by NHS staff who continue to deliver fast, safe, high quality care to a growing number of A&E patients, especially given that this winter was the most challenging for years.

‘Thanks to the hard work of NHS staff, the waiting experience for millions of patients in A&E has dramatically improved,’ he added.  

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Readers' comments (2)

  • Of course A&E Depts will achieve their targets when waiting times are altered in order to do so. Here is another culture of bullying in the NHS, 'meet the targets or your department will be financially penalised'. That is enough to make any nurse afraid of speaking up. I have witnessed senior A&E nurses in tears because patients have breached the 4 hour wait, they are then told to sit at a computer with a list of those that have breached and alter the timings to reflect them hitting the target.

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  • I think that you'll find that most trusts just find 'clever' ways to gently manipulate the figures so that patients don't breach. If they didn't, you'd find that patients would be breaching left, right and centre, and Trusts wouldn't be meeting their targets. Most A&E staff would probably agree that this happens, but few, if any, would speak up about it.

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