Routine NHS services should be available seven days a week, the NHS Commissioning Board has announced.
As part of a growing move towards seven-day hospital care, the commissioning board has revealed plans for a review, led by NHS medical director Sir Bruce Keogh, to investigate how better access to some services can be achieved. This will include input from national and local commissioners, providers and healthcare regulators.
Reports of the plan were trailed in the national press yesterday, as reported by Nursing Times.
The commisisoning board guidance document states: “The NHS will move towards routine services being available seven days a week. This is essential to offer a much more patient-focused service and also offers the opportunity to improve clinical outcomes and reduce costs.”
It said the review will look at improving diagnostics and urgent and emergency care as a first step and report its findings in the autumn of 2013. The document added the report would address “the consequences of the non-availability of clinical services across the seven day week and provide proposals for improvements to any shortcomings”.
The board document also states: “Emergency care should not be used when patients would benefit from care in other settings.”
British Medical Association chair Mark Porter said: “While we are committed to improving services at weekends and in the evenings, today’s proposals to provide routine NHS procedures seven days a week are too crude and fail to take into account the resources, investment and flexibility that will be needed to achieve this.”
However, president of the Royal College of Physicians Sir Richard Thompson backed the plan saying patients deserved the best care in the evenings and at weekends.
He added: “For some time the RCP has been concerned that acute hospital care at weekends needs to improve. We believe that to make this aim a reality, some services will need to be redesigned and [this] may have resource implications.”
Also within its planning guidance to CCGs the commissioning board details efforts to improve the culture among the NHS workforce in response to the Winterbourne View and Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust care scandals.
The document said: “All NHS commissioners must work together with their providers to ensure the recommendations in those reports are being addressed.”