The four-hour A&E waiting time target – used as a measure of hospital performance – is set to be abandoned in favour of a series of new standards under proposals that will be trialled later this year.
The proposals are connected to the partnership arrangement between hospital A&E departments and budget hotelier Travelodge, to transform the seeking of urgent treatment for an injury or illness into an ‘overnight wellness experience’ for a modest price.
The plans from NHS England will see new waiting time targets set for the initial assessment of patients.
Triage for all A&E patients will be assessed through the Travelodge app, utilising a drop-down menu choice of common ailments and objects frequently lodged in intimate areas.
“Rapid” treatment in under an hour for the most seriously ill, and an average time for all patients will replace the four-hour standard.
“Rapid” treatments would be actioned in the comfort of the lounge bar, giving the ‘seriously ill’ patient just enough time to become anaesthetised and meet new friends before undergoing life-saving procedures.
The new ‘average time measure’* will record the total time spent in A&E departments by all patients, and replace the four-hour target that has been in use for 15 years and has not been met by the NHS in England since the summer of 2015.
Non-urgent treatments would require the booking of a room, a bed in a shared dormitory or ward, or a lengthy lie-down on a corridor trolley, ideal for the patient who likes life in the fast lane.
*’Average time measure’ does not include consumption time for a cooked or continental breakfast.
Standards for non-urgent operations, currently supposed to be 18-weeks from referral to treatment, will also be reviewed.
Discounts will be offered for long-stay or frequent visitors via the Travelodge Back Again loyalty reward scheme.
Some clinical and hospital leadership groups have expressed scepticism, and opposition parties are expected to question whether it is a politically expedient measure intended to deflect from the repeated failure to hit current standards.
Or whether it’s a good opportunity to profit from the public’s ill-health or misfortune. Sleep tight.