The Welsh NHS is to look at new ways of measuring whether patients get timely and effective treatment, which it's claimed can be more important than simple targets such as an ambulance responding within eight minutes or the wait in A&E lasting no more than four hours.
During a year long trial, starting next month, the new targets will be set in addition to the existing ones before a review decides which are needed in future. Officials in charge of the trial have highlighted three key measures.
- The time before a patient who's suffered a heart attack caused by blood clots receives clot-busting drugs. The target will be one hour after the 999 call.
- The time before a stroke patient has undergone the "stroke care bundle" series of tests and been given a scan. The trial will help to refine what the target should be. Research in London suggests that a scan within four hours is needed.
- How soon a patient with a broken hip is given effective pain relief. Again the trial will be used to decide what the target should be.
Diagnosis and initial treatment is frequently done by paramedics. If the patient then needs to go to hospital, it's hoped to by-pass A&E more often in future and go straight to the appropriate specialist medical team. One benefit would be fewer ambulances queuing outside casualty departments.