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[Image: Science Photo Library.]

It seems we have all been deceived, and the scale of the crisis facing emergency medicine may be greater than first thought.

Emails from NHS Improvement told Trusts to boost their treatment figures by including data from walk-in centres, in conflict with guidance issued by NHS England in 2015.

It means trusts’ performance since last October, when the first email was sent, may have been artificially inflated.

The UK Statistics Authority has demanded an explanation.

Crucially, This Writer wants to know who ordered the changes – and why.

NHS hospital trusts in England may have to recalculate A&E performance figures from last October onwards.

The UK Statistics Authority has told NHS England to explain changes to the recording of A&E data.

It says the changes – highlighted by BBC News – could have left people reaching “misleading conclusions”.

They raise questions over some trusts’ performance on the highest profile NHS performance target – that patients in A&E are seen within four hours.

The official target requires 95% of patients to be treated, assessed or discharged within four hours, a figure the NHS has failed to meet since July 2015.

A hospital trust’s performance figures include the main accident and emergency department (known as Type 1) and minor injuries or care centres (known as Type 3).

These centres tend to see and treat patients a lot more quickly than those needing emergency care.

Data in these clinics tends to pull up the overall performance of a trust. This is confirmed by the Royal College of Emergency Medicine.

The BBC has seen emails sent by NHS Improvement, the body responsible for overseeing trusts, in October last year.

The implication is that including these centres would help improve overall performance.

This, and another email sent later in October by NHS Improvement, was seen by trusts as a request to add in data from walk-in centres not run by them and not on hospital grounds.

This is in direct conflict with clear guidance issued in November 2015 by NHS England, which says walk-in centre data can be included only if the trust has clinical responsibility for the service or if it co-located on the trust’s grounds.

Source: A&E stats may have to be recalculated


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