A&E Waiting Time Limits

The Herald reports:

Health Minister Tony Ryall will impose maximum patient waiting times on hospital emergency departments. …

The Herald reported yesterday that a consensus is emerging – in talks among senior physicians and health officials – that the maximum time should be six hours and that no patient should be left waiting in an emergency department corridor. Recommendations are expected to be made to Mr Ryall within weeks.

This is a very brave move by Tony Ryall. Under Labour we saw billions thrown into health, but very little measurable improvements for that money. This means that Labour could talk about how much it cared, but never be measured on success.

Tony is putting in place measures that will introduce better accountability. DHBs will have to front up and specify what resources they need to ensure they can see all A&E patients within six hours. The DHBs can be held to account for that, and also the Minister and central Government an be held accountable if they fail to adequately fund the DHBs.

He cited Britain’s success in reducing emergency department waiting times through a target maximum wait, set in 2004, of no more than four hours from arrival to admission, transfer or discharge. Within several years, he said, the proportion of patients waiting in emergency departments for more than four hours fell from 23 per cent, to 3 per cent.

In New Zealand, Health Ministry data from one large emergency department and two of medium size indicated that while the majority of patients were seen within several hours, up to 20 per cent at one of the hospitals spent more than eight hours in the emergency department.

Looks to be a good plan.

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