New focus on patient outcomes

Wednesday, 29 December, 2010

Accident and emergency departments as well as ambulance trusts will in future assess their performance on what matters most to patients - quality, experience and patient outcomes, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley announced on December 17.

According to Mr Lansley, the move comes amid concerns that parts of the NHS feel pressured into meeting process-led targets for A&E and ambulances that distort priorities and lack any clinical justification.

From April this year the current four hour waiting time standard for A&E will be replaced with a set of eight new clinical quality indicators that promote quality and patient safety. Time
will still be measured, as part of the new clinical quality indicators as it is a significant risk factor for treating patients, but crucially time will no longer be the only factor.

The abolishment of the 'category B' response time target for ambulances will be replaced with a set of 11 new clinical quality indicators. This will improve the quality and safety of care by focusing on those groups of patients with the greatest clinical need rather than according to the categorization of call alone.

Commenting on the changes SECAmb's Director of Operations, Sue Harris said: "We have been campaigning for a long time that outcomes should be the driving factor for measuring success and we therefore welcome this decision. "However, we also recognise that it is still important to respond to patients in a timely manner - nobody calls 999 and tells us to take our time! In a recent survey we undertook, patients and the public told us that speed of response
was one of the key things they expected and wanted from their local ambulance service.

"Therefore, I'm confident that while the changes outlined by the Government are necessary and important, we will continue to ensure that we provide a responsive and high-quality ambulance service to our communities - it is what they want and deserve."

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