A national expert group is reviewing policy on urgent and emergency care for the Department of Health in response to the next stage review, the Mid Staffordshire foundation trust scandal and spiralling demand.
The urgent and emergency care board is looking at new performance measures, raising the possibility of a shift away from the national target for at least 98 per cent of accident and emergency patients to be seen within four hours.
The process may increase scrutiny of GP access, for example by measuring the number of their patients attending A&E who do not need hospital care.
The government committed to reviewing the A&E target in response to Mid Staffordshire, and some trusts have failed to meet it, particularly in the winter, as attendance has increased sharply.
National clinical director for primary care David Colin-Thomé, who chairs the board, said it would look at how to better integrate services, and develop ways of measuring urgent care performance for a “whole system”.
He told Nursing Times sister title HSJ: “In the past we have not been focused enough on the system as a whole, rather than doing things separately.”
NHS North West chief executive Mike Farrar, who is leading a review of emergency demand for the strategic health authorities, said it would contribute to the board, and also called for better integration.
He said: “People are achieving the A&E standard… but are patients in the right place with the right care, and getting there in the fastest time?”