CHANGES to the way A&E performance is measured are to be trialled in Poole.

Poole Hospital has been chosen as one of 14 pilot sites to test the replacement for the “outdated” four-hour target.

The move has been welcomed by its deputy chief executive who said it could improve the care and safety of patients.

NHS England announced last month that it was considering replacing the four-hour measure with a new target which prioritises patients based on how ill they are.

It said hospitals appeared to be more motivated by meeting the target rather than providing the best care.

Nationally, the target has not been met since July 2015.

In February, only 84 per cent of Poole Hospital A&E patients were seen within four hours, blaming increasing visits to the department.

The 14 NHS trusts chosen to pilot the new prioritisation system have had mixed performances at meeting the four-hour target.

They include the best and third-best performers. Poole hospital is ranked 30th best nationally.

The trust’s deputy chief executive, Mark Mould, welcomed the hospital’s inclusion in the pilot scheme.

He said: “The proposed standards cover things like the time it takes for a patient to be initially assessed, critically ill and injured patients being treated within the first hour, and the overall average time spent in the emergency department.

“It is believed that these improved measures have the potential to improve care and enhance patient safety, and the proposals have received widespread support from NHS staff and patient groups and charities.

“We will be working with our staff, NHS England and NHS Improvement to design how this might work here, with the new measurements expected to come into play in May and be trialled for somewhere between six and eight weeks.”

“Our focus throughout the trial will remain firmly on delivering safe, excellent, clinically-appropriate care, and a good patient experience.”

NHS England will monitor the performance of the 14 hospitals ahead of a planned “full implementation” of the new measure in the spring of 2020.