Poor Weekend Care Could Result In Big Fines, Hospitals Warned

16 December 2013

Poor Weekend Care Could Result In Big Fines, Hospitals Warned

NHS England’s medical director has announced that hospitals have to deliver the same standard of care to patients seven days a week or face large fines.

Sir Bruce Keogh has said that it is a ‘historic’ practice to rely on junior doctors on weekends in the absence of consultants being present, and that such a norm should be scrapped entirely. Keogh’s comments come after the culmination of a major review of seven-day services which was implemented after initial concerns over higher death rates for patients treated on Saturdays or Sundays.

Speaking earlier to the Sunday Times, Keogh said that hospital trusts will be bound by contract to run a full service seven days a week and that breaches could cost individual trusts up to 2.5 per cent of their annual income up to £500m.

He warned that those hospitals who could not safe guard weekend care or outright refused to provide it could face the loss of their right to use junior doctors. He told the newspaper that a seven-day NHS would “undo more than 50 years of accumulated custom and practice which have failed to put the interests of patients first”.

Under Keogh’s recommendations, all patients admitted to a hospital ward under an emergency basis will see a consultant within 14 hours, and those already in hospital will be reviewed by one every 24 hours. This is planned to be implemented within three years.

Routine surgery will also be available for minor conditions, such as heart checks and biopsies, hernia treatment and blood tests. Additionally, following the review, services such as X-rays, ultrasounds, CT and MRI scans are envisaged to be carried out promptly.

“Two things are key to this,” Keogh said. “One is the availability of diagnostic tests at the weekend, because the key to treating somebody is a diagnosis. Then you need someone experienced to interpret those tests and to institute the right treatment.

“People are still kept waiting at the weekend for a diagnosis. We have a system that is not built around the convenience of patients and is not compassionate to patients for part of the week.”

The changes will cost about two per cent of the NHS’s operating budget of £97bn, he added.

It was originally after a group of senior consultants complained via letter in The Telegraph newspaper about staffing levels in NHS wards, that the announcement came about. Originally eight surgeons raised their collective voices in alarm over the fact that patients were being put at risk because inexperienced hospital staff members were being forced 
to take on too much responsibility.

If you or somebody you know has experienced some form of medical mistreatment-particularly during weekends- at a NHS trust or hospital, you can speak to our specialist team members who are able to provide advice and support so that you are fully aware of your patient and healthcare rights. 

If you have experienced the impact of low staffing level issues in wards with regards to emergency and non-emergency treatment, whether during weekdays or weekends, Mistreatment.com are more than happy to help you through the process of understanding your patient rights so you know where you stand.