Since the Government announced the withdrawal of student funding for would-be nurses last year, we are already hearing of a 20% drop in applications for graduate nursing courses. And the 1% pay cap on salaries is not helping to encourage people into nursing and is making existing nurses reconsider whether they can even afford to continue. If the NHS wants to achieve a clean bill of health, we need to ensure there is adequate staffing, funding, resource and education. The health of the nation is at stake.
Relegating the four-hour target in importance and looking across a richer set of indicators like these could be an important way forward. But doing this will mean moving away from the weekly fix of headlines about hospitals 'underperforming' or, alternatively, meeting the target. Are politicians brave enough to go cold turkey on the totemic four-hour A&E target?
This spectrum of care that vacillates between the brilliant and the dreadful cannot be allowed to continue, it is not cost effective for starters! I hope the powers that be are coming up with a plan that will allow the NHS to do what it does best - primary care, emergency care and the very specialised life-saving stuff.
For political reasons, Jeremy Hunt has turned this whole issue into a crisis of primary care. The trouble is he has a real crisis in A&E that isn't going away - and the measures he is proposing won't solve it, as the advice from NHS England makes clear. In fact, by focusing his department's attention on the wrong target, he could make matters even worse.