A very interesting bureaucratic move in the National Health Service. The source of this problem is likely multi-factorial and quite complex, but I have to point out some flaws in perception if not policy.
The NHS is getting pushback from their GPs (primary care workforce; equivalent to U.S. Family Physicians, primary care Internists, Pediatricians). The GPs have too much demand for patient care. They worry that truly needy patients will end up with delayed appointments due to a national policy that everyone is seen within 48 hours of appointment request.
What's the solution? Add delays to the system. Hmmm.
The logic goes like this: some patients are needy, others not so much. We (health care professionals) can tell what is 'urgent' and what can wait. Patients can't tell, they all think that their own stuff is urgent and we can't trust them. Given a fixed limit on time and resources, we can take time away from actual patient care to spend time and resources instead on sorting patient demand. This will make sure we have the right folks seen on time.
This 'mother-may-I' approach turns nurses and doctors into high-priced schedulers, deflects professional time away from actual patient care into administrative work. In the U.S. we've seen this approach lead to increased use of the emergency room, increased rates of hospitalization, increased cost of care, decreased satisfaction (both professional and public). So much for 'no clinical justification.'
Adding waits and delays into health care systems is bad for the health of the population served and is bad policy. Better to understand the root cause of supply/demand miss-match and right the problem.