The current access standards outlined in the Handbook to the NHS Constitution are as follows:
- For urgent and emergency care – a maximum four-hour wait in Accident & Emergency (A&E) from arrival to admission, transfer or discharge
- For elective care – patients have the right to start consultant-led treatment within a maximum of 18 weeks from referral for non-urgent conditions
This policy is a promise to retain those standards.
In March 2019, the NHS National Medical Director published the interim report of the Clinically-led Review of NHS Access Standards. The report looked at both of the standards referenced in this policy.
For the A&E standard, the report noted that the public often misunderstand the “four hours” as relating to waiting time, rather than time for treatment to be completed or patients to be admitted, transferred or discharged. It proposed changes to the standard which would prevent that confusion. The changes will be piloted from April 2019 with a wider roll-out planned from autumn 2019.
For the elective care standard, the report proposed testing a new approach based on average pre-treatment waiting times rather than a maximum 18-week waiting time. Again, roll-out is planned from autumn 2019, with final recommendations to be published in the spring of 2020.
The manifesto promised to retain these two standards, but both of them are undergoing a process of significant alteration. Regardless of whether the outcome is positive or negative for patients, the promise to retain the standards has not been fulfilled, so we’re marking this as ‘broken’. We’ll keep tracking the progress of developing the new standards, so follow this policy for updates.
Get the details, retain the facts