Urgent care performance targets released by NHSE

NHS England has released a new set of indicators to evaluate urgent care performance.

The new standards have been approved by several organisations including the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, the Patients Association, Healthwatch England, NHS Confederation, Mind and the College of Paramedics.  The standards are broken down into four areas of focus: 


  • Response times for ambulances  
  • Reducing avoidable trips (conveyance rates) to Emergency Departments by 999 ambulances  
  • Proportion of contacts via NHS 111 that receive clinical input 


  • Percentage of Ambulance Handovers within 15 minutes 
  • Time to Initial Assessment – percentage within 15 minutes 
  • Average (mean) time in Department – non-admitted patients 


  • Average (mean) time in Department – admitted patients 
  • Clinically Ready to Proceed 

Whole System 

  • Patients spending more than 12 hours in A&E 
  • Critical Time Standards 

Professor Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director said: “Since the previous standards were introduced in 2004, there have been many innovations in urgent treatment and care, so it is right we listen to patients, the public and other experts to ensure NHS services deliver what matters most to patients as well as what is most important clinically. 

 “Welcomed by the public, NHS staff and patients alike, these new indicators set out how the sickest and most clinically urgent patients could be given priority as well as improving the overall experience of our patients. 

 “The pandemic has only made this work even more vital – patients need to get the right care, in the right place, at the right time and in a COIVD safe way while they do so.” 

The consultation process ran from December 2020 and ended in February 2021 and received 354 responses from the public and stakeholders. The NHS worked with acute hospital trusts, clinical and patient representative groups, to update the standards that were first introduced 15 years ago. Participants were asked to complete an online consultation survey and attend an online focus group. 

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges said: “The results of this consultation underpin what the medical royal colleges have long argued, our patients want more accessible and appropriately targeted urgent and emergency care. These proposals, which set out better ways to measure what is happening, are long overdue. We now need to see all these new indicators fully adopted so that doctors and their teams are supported to deliver the right care at the right time and in the right setting.”