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Weekend A&E admissions '10% more likely to die'


NHS hospital patients admitted for emergency treatment at weekends are almost 10% more likely to die than those admitted during the week, it has been reported.

The Daily Telegraph said a report by the Dr Foster Intelligence healthcare information organisation had found one-in-eight trusts had higher than expected death rates on Saturdays and Sundays.

It said that in a “handful” of trusts, the mortality rate was found to have risen 20% or more at weekends.

The report was said to have found “significantly reduced services at weekends and nights”, and that mortality rates “rise sharply for patients admitted on a Saturday or a Sunday”.

The overall death rate for emergency admissions rose from 7.4% during the week to 8.1% at weekends, a 9.5% increase.

The report was said to have identified 18 trusts - 12% of the total - where mortality rates were found to be higher than expected at weekends.

There were nine trusts where out-of-hours mortality “may be a particular problem” as it was within the expected range during the week but rose on Saturdays and Sundays.

NHS medical director, Professor Sir Bruce Keogh said that while mortality rates in the NHS were going down, hospitals with high out-of-hours rate had to investigate why they may be falling short.

“By working together and sharing best practice, hospitals can improve services for patients,” he said in a statement.

“I will be asking the NHS medical directors to look closely at weekend services to ensure patients admitted at weekends receive the same standards of care as those during the week.

“This problem is not unique to the NHS, it confronts all health systems in the world, but I am confident the NHS is well placed to address these issues.”

A spokesman for Dr Foster refused to comment on the findings ahead of the report’s official publication.

NHS Confederation deputy chief executive David Stout said that despite over a decade of sustained improvements in hospitals some “really knotty challenges” remained.

“We see inconsistent care between hospitals and inconsistent quality over the course of a week,” he said.

“A big part of the answer is to change the way we deliver services, bringing them closer to home where possible and moving them further away when they need to be in order to provide the safest and best possible care.”


Readers' comments (2)

  • This can hardly come as a suprise can it? In order to keep patients alive it is usually helpful to have enough staff on duty!
    At weekends there is a particular shortage of senior medical staff and of course the problem of less experianced junior doctors.
    There is reduced access to some vital services such as some radiological investigations.

    You can't have these things unless chief execs want to pay for them, and the bottom line is most of them dont.

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  • I agree Sarah, when I worked in hospitals I could never understand why there was not access to all departments at weekends. Emergency only radiography, ultrasound, MRI etc etc. If nurses and junior doctors have to provide a 24/7 service then surely every other department should be doing the same, from phlebotomy and physiotherapy.

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