A new report has found that on average, the chance of dying in an NHS hospital is up to a third higher following a weekend admission than after a weekday admission.
Some hospitals are simply not as well prepared for weekend working as others
Dr Foster Intelligence found that more than 3,000 people could be saved every year if weekend hospital cover was as good during the working week.
The firm looked at the 12 biggest conditions where death rates for weekend admissions are higher than for weekday admissions. For each condition, at least 250 people die a year after being admitted at the weekend.
For instance, the risk of dying in hospital of complications caused by the thickening of the arteries is 20 per cent for weekday emergency admissions, but 28 per cent for weekend emergencies. This translates to a relative raised risk of 40 per cent.
For patients with abdominal aneurysm, the death rate for weekday emergency admissions is 27 per cent but rises to 37 per cent at the weekend, a relative rise of 37 per cent. For pancreatic cancer the weekday death rate is 25 per cent and the weekend rate 34 per cent, translating to a 36 per cent uplift in relative risk.
Their research also revealed that a much lower access to some key medical tests at weekends. For example, the chance of getting a prompt emergency MRI scan at the weekend is almost half that on a weekday.
Experts say that some hospitals are simply not as well prepared for weekend working as others, and the study adds weight to the argument that smaller units with inadequate weekend cover should close. Roger Taylor, director of research at Dr Foster, said:
“These mortality figures are a worrying sign of the NHS’ failure to modernise its working practices.”
Sir Bruce Keogh, medical director of the NHS, said: “I believe that we can solve this and lead the way internationally in the NHS by offering easier access to GPs, hospital consultants and routine hospital services seven days a week.”
Whilst medical insurance is not designed to cover emergency treatment, it can offer cover for your private continued care after you are stabilised in Accident and Emergency.
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