The Timestoday, patients could be offered appointments for clinics and operations at weekends. " />

Weekend ops?

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Sir Bruce Keogh, the medical director of the NHS Commissioning Board, believes that the NHS should respond to the expectations of patients and bow to commercial pressures which highlight the waste of theatres and expensive equipment lying empty and unused during the weekend.  He believes that the change would make hospitals more efficient and enable people to care for relatives without necessarily having to take it off work.

However, he acknowledges there will be the need is for a big cultural change and a renegotiation of doctors' contracts to provide a seven day a week service for patients.    

In addition, more resources would be required to ensure that the care was consistent following a study reported earlier this year that lower staffing levels in hospitals at weekends have been blamed for higher death rates than during the week.  It found that patients admitted to hospital on a Sunday are 16 per cent more likely to die than those who arrive on a Wednesday, while deaths from strokes were more common in patients admitted at weekends.

A 24/7 NHS must be welcomed but only if it is appropriately resourced and patients can be certain that the convenience of weekend appointments and operations won't be undermined by poor standards of care. 

Annabelle Eyre
Clinical Negligence team

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