Research has indicated that alarmingly patients are more likely to die if admitted to hospital at a weekend. Earlier this year, research carried out at University College London and the universities of Birmingham and East Anglia was published showing patients in England were 16% more likely to die if they were admitted on a Sunday, rather than mid-week.
Staffing and in particular the presence, or absence, of senior doctors has been highlighted as a key factor. As a result, the NHS Commissioning Board, led by Sir Bruce Keogh, plans to look into this and find ways to improve care so that the NHS can truly be said to offer a seven day service. The Health Minister, Lord Howe, has said that patients need the NHS ‘every day’.
At present some hospitals are only able to offer an emergency service at the weekend and more routine care, including scans and minor operations, for example, are often put on hold until the following week. This can mean that what should have been a treatable condition develops into a more severe one over a weekend and a limited window of opportunity to provide treatment successfully is lost, in some cases with tragic circumstances.
We of course welcome the involvement of the NHS Commissioning Board and hope that its recommendations will result in better care for patients in hospitals every day of the week all year round.