You ARE more likely to die if taken to hospital at weekend: Study confirms that NHS care is worse on a Saturday and SundayChances of recovery are jeopardised because senior doctors are absent and tests are not always availableStudy finds that Sunday patients are 16 per cent more likely to die than those admitted on a WednesdayHealth Secretary Andrew Lansley says the findings are 'unacceptable'
Patients admitted to hospitals at weekends are far more likely to die than those taken there on weekdays, a major study has confirmed.
Chances of recovery are jeopardised because senior doctors are absent and tests and scans are not immediately available.
A study of over 14million NHS admissions found that Sunday patients are 16 per cent more likely to die within the next 30 days than those brought in on a Wednesday.
Worrying: Patients admitted to hospitals at weekends are far more likely to die than those taken there on weekdays, a major study has confirmed
Patients admitted on a Saturday are 11 per cent more likely to die in 30 days.
Alarmingly, the researchers warned that patients who go to hospital at weekends tend to be sicker – making it crucial that they receive the highest standard of medical attention.
This is due to a higher number of road accidents, drink-related injuries and poor out-of-hours GP care that means patients’ deteriorate while treatment is delayed.
Earlier this week, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley ordered a ‘fundamental rethink’ of how hospitals are run at weekends.
Responding to this study Mr 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.
‘/02/02/article-2095676-0B66266500000578-281_233x423.jpg” width=”233″ height=”423″ alt=”Concerned: Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said it is unacceptable that patients admitted to hospital on a Saturday or Sunday stay longer and have worse results” class=”blkBorder” />
Concerned: Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said it is unacceptable that patients admitted to hospital on a Saturday or Sunday stay longer and have worse results
'On Saturdays and sometimes Sundays, some services have scanners open to provide tests, are doing operations, and have more senior staff around.’
Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said: ‘The NHS exists to ensure that its users are given the best possible care, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
It is simply not acceptable for somebody to face an increased risk of death just because they were unfortunate enough to suffer an injury or get sick on a Saturday or Sunday as opposed to any other day of the week.’
Researchers from University College London – whose work was commissioned by the Department of Health – looked at 14.2million hospital admissions in 2009/10.
Writing in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, the researchers concluded: ‘There may be aspects of care associated with weekend admissions which disadvantage patients.
‘Some urgent conditions require prompt treatment and in some cases the way weekend care is organised may lead to delays which can adversely affect the outcome.’
The study backs up a report in November by Dr Foster Intelligence linking a higher death rate at weekends with poorer staff levels.
Most consultants tend to work office hours and at weekends the wards are left in the hands of junior doctors.
In addition, departments responsible for certain scans and blood tests are shut until Monday.
The researchers pointed out that patients admitted at weekends may be more seriously ill. Some who become seriously ill on Friday try and hang on until Monday, during which time they deteriorate further and end up needing urgent treatment.
There are also more injuries from road accidents, alcohol and self-harming at weekends.
Dr Andrew Goddard, of the Royal College of Physicians, said: ‘This study is further evidence that patients admitted at weekends are more likely to die following admission than patients admitted to hospital during the week.
‘There are many reasons for this, but the two most important are that the patients are more ill and there are fewer doctors available.’
David Stout, deputy chief executive of the NHS Confederation said: ‘There is no doubt that this is something the NHS has to improve.
'Patients should never have to worry about what is the “right” time to visit their local hospital.’