Academy of Medical Royal Colleges calls for consistency of patient care seven days a week

Posted: 18/11/2013


The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AoMRC) has produced a report highlighting the need for senior medical input on wards and easier access to investigations and treatment at weekends. The report categorically states that it is ‘ethically unjustifiable’ that the standard of care received by a patient should vary depending on whether they are admitted during the week or over a weekend and makes a number of recommendations gathered from organisations operating and representing people within the NHS to fix the problem.

Key message and recommendations include:

  • Hospital stays are prolonged by people who are waiting to see a consultant – often over a weekend. These delays not only adversely affect their outcome but can also create ‘bed blocks’
  • Patients are having treatment – in some cases urgent – delayed because staff and resources are not available for investigations and treatment at the weekend
  • There should be daily consultant ward rounds
  • Investigations, emergency surgery, physiotherapy and patient transport (amongst other things) should be available seven days a week
  • While the costs of such provision may increase in the short term , this is likely to be set off by improved patient care and outcomes.

Philippa Luscombe, partner in the clinical negligence team at Penningtons Manches LLP, said: “As clinical negligence lawyers, we continue to see the same causes of substandard medical care and poor outcomes occur over and over again. In the last year or so there have been a number of studies showing that outcomes for those admitted just before or over weekends are noticeably worse than at other times of the week. From an ethical perspective, it cannot be right that the standard of care that you receive varies on the day of the week you attend.

“The common denominator for many of the cases that we deal with which involve patients who end up with poor outcomes is a lack of senior input, monitoring or access to investigations over a weekend. If care could be equalised over a week, then many patients would have a better outcome. Not only would this reducing their need for resources but also significantly reduce the number of claims brought against the NHS which are attributable to poor weekend care.

“This is the first time we have seen a report which addresses this problem head on and makes such clear cut recommendations to fix it and we hope that this produces change.”


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