Jonathan Ashworth MP, Labour’s Shadow Health and Social Care Secretary, responding to NHS England’s announcement of plans to trial new NHS clinical standards, said “Labour has always supported a whole system approach to care and endorses targets as crucial to improving access to care for patients. We therefore welcome new access standards focused on cancer and mental health.
“The four hour target introduced by the last Labour government, backed up by real investment, was a vital tool in ensuring patients were treated quickly and not left languishing on trolleys for hours on end.
“It’s in striking contrast, however, that under the Tories the four hour A&E standard, already weakened by David Cameron, hasn’t been met since July 2015, while most recently patients suffered from the worst ever performance against the A&E target.
“Front line clinicians are already concerned any change to or abolition of the four hour target will lead to a return to the bad old days of long trolley waits and patient misery.
“New A&E targets must be based on clear clinical expert consensus not political pressure from Downing Street.
“The reality is years of austerity, understaffing and wider cuts have left our A&Es overcrowded and in crisis. Anyone arriving at A&E deserves quick, quality care but unless we see more funding for the NHS, a credible staffing plan alongside significant funding for our social care sector, patients will continue to be let down regardless of what targets are in place.”