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Health Minister, Vaughan Gething, has announced a new set of experimental measures for emergency departments.

First published:
19 November 2020
Last updated:

This was published under the 2016 to 2021 administration of the Welsh Government

Developed alongside front line clinicians, the three new measures will provide much greater context about the timeliness and quality of care in emergency departments.

The measures will better record what happens to patients when accessing emergency care than existing targets, and should help to drive improvement in patient care. They will be published monthly, on a national basis initially, from today (Thursday, 19 November).

Mr Gething said:

“These new measures, developed alongside clinicians, will give us all a much better picture of the care provided by staff in emergency departments than the basic four and twelve-hour targets alone. In turn this will help health boards focus resources in the right places, at the right time to improve experience and outcomes.”

Dr Jo Mower, vice president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) Wales and Clinical Director for the National Programme for Unscheduled Care, led a team of front-line staff who developed the new measures, following engagement with staff and patients.

She said:

“During our discussions with nurses, doctors and other key staff - and through public engagement - we found people most value a timely initial assessment and reassurance when accessing care in emergency departments.

Frontline NHS staff broadly felt the existing waiting time targets alone don’t properly describe the extent of care, frequency of interaction with patients nor the timeliness and quality of care they provide. They wanted far greater context to be provided.

Combined with the existing targets, and new information relating to patient experience, they will also provide greater transparency, by highlighting previously hidden longer waits. The three new measures will eventually be complemented by others that should help to improve services by focusing resources in the right place and improve flow through the hospital system.”

The first set of three new measures are:

  • Time to Triage. The average (median) time people wait for triage by a clinician following arrival, and performance by ‘triage category’ which include ‘immediate’; ‘very urgent’; and ‘urgent’.
  • Time to Clinician. The average (median) time a patient waits for a more thorough assessment by a clinician.
  • Outcome. Information on where people go once they have been triaged, assessed and treated in the Emergency Department. This will improve understanding of how services are being used to help health boards better manage patients in the community or in different parts of the hospital.

The data is currently classed as experimental, and should be viewed with caution as the quality and accuracy of data improves. The Welsh Government continues to work with health boards to improve data capture and quality.

The data will be published at 09.30 on Thursday 19 November and can be seen here:

Plans are also underway to develop further measures reflecting the wider urgent and emergency care pathway and to publish information on patient experience.