Figures showing that admissions from A&E peak in the 10 minutes before the four-hour deadline expires do not necessarily mean targets are influencing patient care, according to the Royal College of Nursing.
The NHS Information Centre’s figures have shown that three quarters of patients in A&E are seen and treated, or admitted, within three hours while 6% of all patients across the country are dealt with in the final 10 minutes before the Government target.
RCN chief executive and general secretary Dr Peter Carter said: “There can often be good clinical reasons for admitting people shortly before four hours, for example if staff are conducting observations or waiting for lab tests.
“However, if pressure is being placed on staff to admit patients in order not to breach a target, then patient care is not being put first and this is unacceptable. The RCN is currently working to assess the extent to which pressure is being put on staff, and are determined to ensure that patient care comes first.”
The number of patients dealt with in the final 10 minutes before a deadline varies from around zero to 15% in different parts of the country.