Print media representations of UK Accident and Emergency treatment targets: Winter 2014-2015



Grant A & Hoyle L (2017) Print media representations of UK Accident and Emergency treatment targets: Winter 2014-2015. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 26 (23-24), pp. 4425-4435.

Aims and Objectives To undertake an analysis of UK national daily newspaper coverage of accident and emergency treatment targets, in order to understand whether the media could be seen to be creating a scandal. Background Emergency department treatment targets have become common in developed countries. In the UK, hospitals are required to treat and discharge patients within four hours, and statistics are published daily. Breaches of targets are regularly reported by the UK print media. Design Exploratory research of tabloid newspaper articles that reported on four‐hour treatment targets in the UK during a seven‐month period over the winter of 2014–2015 (n = 1,317). An interpretivist thematic approach was used during analysis. Results The main “problem” identified by newspapers was the failure to meet the target, rather than negative effects on patient care (where they existed). Proposed solutions were diverse. Many articles did not describe who was to blame for the failure. Conclusion We conclude that the media created a feeling of scandal, and hypothesise that this is related to political reasons and the availability of data on a daily basis. Relevance to clinical practice It is important for nursing staff to understand the influence of the media on patients and how stories are reported.

four‐hour treatment targets; media; moral panic; qualitative research; thematic analysis

Journal of Clinical Nursing: Volume 26, Issue 23-24

Publication date31/12/2017
Publication date online11/04/2017
Date accepted by journal23/02/2017

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Dr Louise Hoyle

Dr Louise Hoyle

Senior Lecturer in Nursing, Health Sciences Stirling