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Doctors set for a seven-day week

Wigan Infirmary

Wigan Infirmary

WIGAN Infirmary will have to ensure senior doctors and key diagnostic tests are available seven days a week under new plans announced by Government health chiefs.

NHS England says the move is to address the issue of higher weekend death rates in hospitals. The changes, proposed by medical director Prof Sir Bruce Keogh, will be applied to urgent and emergency services over the next three years.

Sir Bruce said the case for change was clinically and morally “compelling”.

The British Medical Association, which represents doctors, said the case for seven-day services had been made and the focus needed to shift to delivering it.

Research suggests death rates are 16 per cent higher for patients with emergency conditions admitted on Sundays compared with those admitted on Wednesdays.

The proposals, which will be discussed by the board of NHS England on Tuesday, set out 10 new clinical standards for hospitals.

These include:

•All emergency admissions to be seen by a consultant within 14 hours

•Seven-day access to diagnostic tests, such as X-rays, ultrasound, MRI scans and pathology

•Patients in intensive care and other high dependency units to be reviewed by a consultant twice a day

•Weekend access to multi-disciplinary teams, which include expert nurses, physios and other support staff

Breaches could cost hospitals up to 2.5 per cent of their annual income of up to £500m, and they could face losing their right to use junior doctors.

Dr Mark Porter, chairman of the British Medical Association Council, backed the changes, saying “there should be no calendar lottery when it comes to patient care”.

He said the BMA was in negotiations with NHS Employers and the government to find an “affordable, practical model for delivering this care” while safeguarding doctors’ work-life balance.

But Prof Chris Ham, of health think tank the Kings Fund, said there were concerns over funding because many hospitals were already struggling and financial pressures would only grow.

The Patients Association said: “Our lives and health are totally dependent upon this vital service and we look forward to its implementation with the least possible delay.”

The changes, proposed by medical director Prof Sir Bruce Keogh, will be applied to urgent and emergency services over the next three years.

Sir Bruce said the case for change was clinically and morally “compelling”.

He said the changes would cost about 1.5-2 per cent of the annual running costs of the hospital and said he was confident about finding money from other parts of the NHS.

The British Medical Association said the case for seven-day services had been made and the focus needed to shift to delivering it.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has commended the move, while shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said the government needed to clearly set out how it will be paid for.

Wrightington Wigan Leigh NHS Foundation Trust (WWL) were unavailable for comment at the time of going to press.

 

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