NHS England has announced that it has suspended all four-hour A&E targets until April 2019.
In January acute hospitals were ordered to suspend all non-urgent care and from today the requirement that accident and emergency departments must see 95% of patients within four hours has been suspended until next April.
The 95% target has not been met in the majority of trusts since 2015 – with an increased demand for services but no increase in service provision being blamed.
An NHS England planning document released today instructed hospitals to attempt to get up to 90% by September 2018 and back to the benchmark of 95% in April next year.
The document also confirmed that financial penalties for missing the four-hour target have also been suspended, saying; “Contract sanctions for performance standards are currently suspended. We propose to extend this until April 2019“.
The NHS Confederation provided a stark warning that failure to properly fund the NHS will result in its destabilisation.
Last month A&E consultants from all over the country wrote to Theresa May blaming Governmental cut-backs for ‘patients dying prematurely’ due to A&E waits.
Saffron Cordery Director of NHS Providers, said:
“This is the first time we have had to accept that the NHS will not meet its key constitutional standards.
“The NHS will not be able to improve performance against those targets. If we want to provide quality of care, we need the right long-term financial settlement.”
NHS England has promised a cash injection of £540 million into emergency care if they are meeting targets by April 2019.