In response to the publication of the NHS Outcomes Framework, in which A&E targets and ambulance response times were scrapped, King's Fund director of policy Anna Dixon called for indicators of timely access to be replicated across sectors.
GPs remain under pressure to offer extended hours and 48-hour advance appointments, with access monitored using patient surveys.
The King’s Fund said in a statement: ‘It is worrying that timely access to services does not feature in the NHS Outcomes Framework, other than in respect of access to GP services.
‘Timely access is a major concern of patients, and early detection and intervention are vital for both prevention and improving outcomes.’
Health secretary Andrew Lansley said the waiting-time targets will be replaced with a set of clinical indicators that 'genuinely measure quality.'