14 hospitals have been chosen to pilot a new way to treat A&E patients. As part of the pilot, the sickest patients will be prioritised, rather than attempting to treat 95% of patients in the current four hour timescale.
The four hour target, which was introduced in 2004, has not been achieved for over three years (since July 2015). The pilot is due to run from this month with the intention that full implementation will begin in spring 2020.
NHS England wants the sickest patients, who may come in with suspected heart attacks, strokes, sepsis or acute asthma to have their care commenced within an hour of arrival.
The pilot will aim to have all patients assessed by a key decision maker, such a senior nurse, within 15-30 minutes. It will also look at average wait times.
There are concerns though that the move could cause more harm than good, with those patients not prioritised being left significantly longer to be seen. There are worries that this could cause a backlog of patients. According to BBC News, the president of The Royal College of Emergency Medicine, Taj Hassan, has warned that it could even see the return of the "dark days" when patients spent 48 hours in hospital corridors.