Patients admitted to NHS hospitals for emergency treatment at weekends are almost 10 per cent more likely to die than during the rest of the week, according to a comprehensive new report.
I think we would start by looking at staffing levels, wouldn\’t we? They are the thing which is most likely to vary over such periods.
Many hospitals have far fewer senior consultants on site outside of normal office hours, the data show, and rely on junior doctors and nurses to treat critically ill patients.
And, if rumour is to be believed, many fewer junior doctors too.
It has prompted a strong response from the Department of Health, which wants trusts to find out why patients are not receiving the same standard of care around the clock.
Well, actually, I think I would start with the rules that limit the hours that doctors can work. You know, the EU ones which came in just a couple of years ago?
The way I would check and see if they\’ve had an effect is to run the same counting exercise over the death statistics from a decade or more ago. If we saw the same peaks in the death rate over the weekends then perhaps it isn\’t responsible: if we don\’t see the same peaks then perhaps it is.
As I say, I don\’t know whether this is the problem or not. But that is the place to start looking.
Hands up everyone who thinks they will actually look there though?