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First Clinical Quality Indicators for Urgent and Emergency Care

The Department of Health's first set of clinical quality indicators for hospital emergency department and ambulance services has been published, replacing existing requirements that patients spend no more than four hours in emergency departments from arrival to admission, transfer, or discharge. In the preface to the implementation guide, Professor Matthew Cooke, National Clinical Director for Urgent and Emergency Care, wrote that, "The purpose of the new set of [Accident and Emergency] indicators is to provide a balanced and comprehensive view of the quality of care, including outcomes, clinical effectiveness, safety, and experience, as well as timeliness, and to remove the isolated focus on faster care."

Five of the measures also include "performance management triggers," which will require hospital managers to investigate poor emergency department performance. While the four-hour requirement no longer applies, hospital management will be expected to investigate if greater than 5 percent of patients wait longer than 15 minutes for an initial assessment and longer than four hours before being seen.

The new guidelines will be implemented in April of this year.


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