Public poll backs early initial assessment on arrival at EDs

Healthwatch England survey reveals most respondents want treatment within an hour

Healthwatch England survey reveals most respondents want treatment within an hour

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Public support for early initial assessment on arrival at emergency departments (EDs) has been revealed in a new survey.

The poll by Healthwatch England, found 88% of respondents agreed with delivering the right tests and treatment within an hour when people are thought to have a life-threatening condition.

However, out of the 1,700 polled in July and October this year, only 21% knew what the national ED waiting time target was and just 22% who have been to an ED in the last three years said they were informed about waiting times when they arrived.

Proposals to change four-hour ED target wait times to faster assessment 

The results come as NHS England trials new proposals for ‘access standards’ across urgent and emergency care, mental health services, cancer care and elective care.

The proposals, currently being trialled at some NHS sites, move away from maximum waiting times, such as the four-hour ED target, replacing them average waiting time measures, and new measures to support faster initial assessment and treatment for those with the most urgent needs.

Responding to the Healthwatch survey results, senior practice development nurse and ED charge nurse Justin Walford said: ‘While some days I hate the clock, it must remain for timely investigations and reviews from specialities. 

Janet Youd

‘The Healthwatch survey highlights prompt emergency care is important to all patients regardless of whether we as healthcare professionals feel they have a minor, major or life-threatening condition.’

‘Important to retain the original four-hour waiting time standard’ 

RCN emergency care association chair Janet Youd said while it was ‘entirely appropriate’ that emergency care standards were reviewed, she was not convinced an ‘average time’ would be any more meaningful to large numbers of patients enduring lengthy ED waits.

‘Until such time that more evidence is available, it is important to retain the original four-hour waiting time standard or we risk return of the appalling conditions experienced at the turn of the century,’ she said.

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