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NHS Access Standards

Volume 657: debated on Tuesday 26 March 2019

10. What assessment he has made of the implications for his Department’s policies of the conclusions of the “Clinically-led review of NHS access standards: interim report from the NHS national medical director”; and if he will make a statement. (910032)

It is a great pity to see the hon. Gentleman back up there on the Back Benches as he was such a force—and a rare force—for reason and progress on the Opposition Front Bench until recently.

Standards in the NHS should be based on clinical evidence, and NHS England’s proposals will be rigorously field-tested to gather further evidence on clinical, operational, workforce and financial implications, all with the goal of improving the quality of care.

I thank the Secretary of State for his tribute—although it is not going to change the question I am going to ask. He will be aware that since July 2015 the four-hour A&E target has not been met and last month saw the worst performance on record, so regardless of any clinical reviews, is it not time that Ministers admitted that the four-hour A&E target has effectively been abandoned?

Of course, we are aiming to meet and improve against the targets, including with the injection of the extra money—£34 billion extra in cash terms over the next five years. At the same time, we must make sure that the standards to which we hold the NHS are the right ones clinically for the times, and that is what this review of standards is all about.