Published: 05/02/2004, Volume II4, No. 5891 Page 4 5

The government is to reward trusts that consistently achieve targets for emergency and mental healthcare with cash payments over the coming year.

Accident and emergency departments will be encouraged to meet the target of all patients being seen within four hours through staged payments that could amount to£500,000 for acute trusts.

Starting in March, trusts that have dealt with 94 per cent of patients during the month will receive£100,000. Thereafter, a further£100,000 will be paid per 1 per cent increase achieved by the end of June, September and December 2004 and March 2005.

Ambulance trusts will also receive money for meeting 75 per cent of category A calls within eight minutes. The amount will differ according to the average number of calls they receive, based on 2002-03 figures.At the top of the scale, trusts receiving more than 300,000 calls a year will be paid£300,000 after three months, and£75,000 for each subsequent month.

Mental health trusts will receive£200,000 for demonstrating 'progress in achieving effective, co-ordinated 24/7 crisis services' by December. This will be measured against plans drawn up in conjunction with strategic health authorities and National Institute for Mental Health (England) development centres.