Hospitals are routinely moving large number of patients from their A&E departments in the last few minutes of the four-hour target time for treatment in emergency departments, Freedom of Information figures have revealed.
More than 20% of patients left the A&E department where they were being treated in the last 20 minutes of the target time at five hospitals, and more than 15% of patients were moved out of A&E at the last minute in 20 hospitals.
The figures, revealed through FoI requests from the Liberal Democrats, show that 16 hospitals had a higher spike in last minute A&E discharge activity than Mid Staffordshire Hospital.
The hospital was heavily criticised in a recent high profile report by the Healthcare Commission – now part of the Care Quality Commission – for focusing on the four-hour A&E treatment target at the expense of patient care.
Liberal Democrat shadow health secretary Norman Lamb said: ‘Patient safety should be top priority for the NHS, not hitting targets.’
Should the four-hour target be scrapped?