“So, as we build an NHS that is fit for the future, now is the right time to look again at the old targets which have such a big influence on how care is delivered, to make sure that they take account of the latest treatments and techniques, and support, not hinder, staff to deliver the kind of responsive, high-quality services that people want to see.”
The proposals also suggest the axing of a 2 week target for urgent referrals with suspected cancer. Instead all patients with an urgent referral should receive a definitive diagnosis within 28 days of urgent referral, they say.
The new plans also say patients suffering mental health crises should receive treatment within an hour of arrival at A&E.
Nuffield Trust chief executive Nigel Edwards said the pilot schemes needed to be watched closely, given the potential dangers to patients.
He said: “There is a risk that getting rid of the 18 week limit on waits for planned procedures could mean the proportion of people going without care for an unacceptably long time drifts upwards.”
Joyce Robins, from Patient Concern, accused health officials of “giving up” on targets simply because the NHS was unable to meet them.