A large scale study has shown that you are more likely to die if you are taken into hospital at the weekend.
Researchers from University College London, commissioned by the Department of Health, looked at 14.2 million NHS admissions in 2009/10.
Their results shows that patients admitted on a Sunday are 16 per cent more likely to die in the next 30 days than those admitted on a Wednesday.
Patients admitted on a Saturday are 11 per cent more likely to die within the next 30 days.
NHS care is worse on a Saturday and Sunday because senior doctors are often absent and tests are not always available. Most consultants tend to work office hours and at weekends the wards are left in the hands of junior doctors.
But the researchers warn that patients who go into hospital at weekends tend to be sicker, because of a higher number of road accidents, drink-related injuries and poor out-of-hours GP care. Their health will deteriorate if treatment is delayed.
In November, the Hospital Guide, from Dr Foster Intelligence, found that around one in eight trusts had higher-than-expected death rates at weekends.
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said: ‘It is unacceptable that patients admitted to hospital on a Saturday or Sunday stay longer and have worse results.
‘Much of the rest of the country continues to be open for the public’s needs at weekends – an NHS that revolves around patients should be the same.'
‘By opening some services seven days a week, more patients will get the care and treatment that they need when they need it. In some parts of the NHS, this is already happening.’
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