Between April and June this year 98% of patients attending Accident and Emergency departments received treatment within four hours. This is the first time the NHS has sustained the 98% target through a full three-month period. The comparable figure for the same quarter last year was 94.7%. At the beginning of 2003, almost a quarter of patients spent more than four hours in A&E. This performance has been achieved against a background of increasing attendances.Modernisation of Accident and Emergency departments has been high on the NHS agenda for some five years. There have been substantial injections of funding and a radical re-think of management processes. Last year hospitals which met targets for dealing with accident and emergency patients received more than 100,000 pounds. They were able to use the money as extra capital funding to develop services across their hospitals.
Management changes include appointing matrons to manage the departments with a brief to revise processes and redesign reception areas. Trusts that appointed matrons received an additional 10,000 pounds budget.
Last week the Healthcare Commission expressed concern that while Accident and Emergency departments were focusing on providing a faster service, quality standards were slipping. The Commission found that some children and older people did not receive pain relief for fractures promptly enough and warned trusts to monitor variations in the quality of care.