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Analysis

Why the four-hour wait target in EDs should stay in place

Hospital emergency departments failed to meet waiting time targets again this year, but patient safety remains a priority
Patient waiting on trolley

Hospital emergency departments failed to meet waiting time targets again this year, but patient safety remains a priority

Since 2015, emergency departments (EDs) in England have failed to meet the four-hour target for assessing, treating and either admitting, discharging or transferring 95% of patients.

Performance in England is now the lowest since the target was introduced in 2004. In 2018, on average, one in six ED attendees spent longer than four hours in the department, compared with one in 16 in 2012-13.

12,700

people, on average, were admitted to hospital via the emergency department each day in the first eight months of 2018

Source: House of Commons (2018)

Despite this, the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) is reiterating calls for the government to retain the four-hour target. In a briefing paper, Emergency Medicine

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