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As our new Government begin to take the reins of what is arguably a health service facing major challenges, we are seeing the beginning of what is set to be a period of significant change within the NHS.
Some of these changes were unveiled by our health secretary Jeremy Hunt in a speech to Health Managers at the annual NHS Confederation Conference in Liverpool this month, where listeners were informed that in accordance with the five-year plan for the NHS, the health service must find £22bn in ‘efficiency savings’ in order to remain viable, something described by Mr Hunt as a “very, very big challenge, which will need a huge amount of attention.”
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt speaking at the NHS Confederation Conference
Major changes include the elimination of two key NHS waiting time targets. Currently the targets set out require 90% of patients who need treatment to be seen within 18 weeks of seeing their GP, and for 95% of outpatient appointments to be seen within 18 weeks.
Both of these will no longer be in place, however a third target for 92% of ALL patients to be seen within 18 weeks will remain.
Recent reports have shown that within the last 12 month period the target for 90% of admitted patients to receive treatment within 18 weeks of referral from GP’s has only been achieved for 4 of the 12 months. This statistic has led many to question whether the targets are merely being scrapped due to the fact they are unachievable.
Staying on the subject of measures within the NHS, there are also changes being made to the publishing of reports relating to wait times. The current target within all Accident and Emergency departments is for patients to be seen within four hours of arriving. At present the information from A&E departments is published using reports every week, all year round.
However this is set to change and become a monthly report. This may even include data relating to ambulance handover times and the length of waits for beds in the hope of giving a more comprehensive picture, though it has been suggested that this reporting would return to a weekly basis in the winter months when A&E departments experience higher demand.
Changes to the frequency of reporting are also occurring when it comes to Cancer patient waiting times. Currently there are a range of measures reported on, including a 62-day target for the start of treatment and a two-week wait for an appointment with a consultant following on from urgent G.P appointments. The data relating to these targets is currently published every quarter, although unlike A&E reporting the frequency is now increasing to monthly reports.
So what do these changes tell us? It could be the start of a more efficient and strengthened health service or could it be that issues are being brushed under the carpet with fewer targets and reporting in place to try and hide failings?
Only time will tell, but here at Connexica we will continue to offer the most comprehensive reporting solution, providing real-time analysis to ensure that our health customers have the insight they require to make patient care a number one priority.
Connexica are the developers of CXAIR, a powerful search, analyse and reporting solution that is being utilised throughout the health sector for reporting in various ways including but not limited to, RTT reporting, patient journeys and bed occupancy rates.
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