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A&E figures not accurate

6th February 2007

Creative managers must be fiddling figures to achieve the four-hour A&E standard, says new research.

Using mathematical modelling, academics at City University's Cass Business School said patients would need to be treated twice as fast as current figures suggest to hit the target.

Instead managers are creating ways to get around the targets and stop the clock.

This included patients being discharged when they reach the four-hour limit and being immediately re-admitted. Hospitals had also introduced clinical decision units, where patients could be admitted once they had reached the four-hour maximum stay in A&E.

Here they await decisions on their treatment, admission or discharge, without being included in the data for the A&E target.

The team looked at 170,000 patients and incorporated a model used by supermarkets and traffic monitoring systems to predict people flow. This showed how quickly hospitals could treat and discharge or admit people to reach the target.

They conclude that hospitals must be massaging their figures to achieve the current levels. The target means 98 per cent of patients should be seen, treated, admitted or discharged within four hours of arrival. Figures show this standard is being reached.

To achieve it, patients would need to be seen and treated within an hour, not the two hours taken prior to the introduction of the target, the researchers said. They argued this dramatic drop was not achievable.

The research comes a month after a survey by the British Medical Association reported that a third of doctors thought the statistics were being played with to achieve targets.

The government has dismissed the research, saying patients themselves know how quickly they are being seen.

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Article Information

Title: A&E figures not accurate
Author: Martine Hamilton
Article Id: 1933
Date Added: 6th Feb 2007

Sources

BBC News
Nursing Times

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