Reform needed says NHS Confederation in response to NHS England’s clinical standards review

Niall Dickson

Responding to NHS England’s clinical standards review, Niall Dickson, Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents organisations across the health sector, said:

“Targets matter – they can concentrate minds and have helped provide faster access to care for millions of patients. They helped eliminate long waits in the 2000s when patients were waiting up to two years for inpatient treatment and up to 12 hours in A&E. This had to change and, backed by more staff, funding and focus, the NHS achieved great things for patients. But targets are blunt tools, and some need to be refined in an era where patients have more complex needs. 

“Targets also need to be realistic – it is foolish to ask the NHS to achieve standards that cannot be realised with the resources available and they should always be based on what is best clinically for patients.
“That’s why this package of reforms is needed – it should help front-line staff focus on caring for the patients with the most critical needs. And it will help reduce some of the challenges we see now – for example in A&E staff are under enormous pressure to admit patients just ahead of the four-hour limit even when this is not necessarily the clinical priority at that moment.
“This is a more nuanced approach, but we must not lose sight of the importance of making sure patients have fast access to care. What matters is that changes are based on sound evidence on their impact on patients and staff. That is why we welcome the plan to pilot these changes in some areas and test their impact before any final decisions are made to roll them out across the NHS.”


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