Monitor is increasing its scrutiny of foundation hospitals’ accident and emergency performance this winter, after being requested to do so by the health secretary.

The regulator announced yesterday that it had “agreed to supplement its routine monitoring” to ensure foundation trusts hit the flagship four hour waiting time target.

During the winter Monitor will scrutinise performance data on a weekly basis. The regulator said it will help trusts “identify any local barriers” to achieving the target, and that it will “agree any remedial actions” with hospitals where necessary.

Where a foundation trust is underperforming, Monitor and the other members of the tripartite panel – the NHS Trust Development Authority and NHS England – will work with local urgent care working groups to boost performance.

The leaders of the panel will also meet with health secretary Jeremy Hunt on a weekly basis to review the A&E performance of acute hospitals across the FT and non-FT sectors.

Monitor chief executive David Bennett said the organisation’s “primary duty… is to protect and promote the interests of patients”, and that it would do everything it could to ensure “no-one is subject to undue clinical risk as a result of excessive waits for treatment”.