Skip to content
Login Register

Delivery of emergency care needs to take priority

26 Mar 2015

On 16 July, the Secretary of State announced plans to reform consultant contracts to ensure the majority of hospital doctors working in NHS England are on seven day contracts by 2020.

On 16 July, the Secretary of State announced plans to reform consultant contracts to ensure the majority of hospital doctors working in NHS England are on seven day contracts by 2020. The NHS is a 24 hour a day, seven day a week service, and staff working across our hospitals perform an outstanding job delivering the highest standards of care in what are often difficult circumstances.

A number of studies have shown that patients admitted to hospital over the weekend have poorer outcomes than those admitted during the week. The reasons for this are complex and involve a number of variables. It is of paramount importance that patients requiring urgent care receive the same standards of care and support and expect the same outcomes regardless of the day of the week or time of the day. This Royal College believes that the optimum delivery of emergency care should be the priority of any extension in hospital services and that extension of elective work over the weekends could direct vital resources away from the key area of emergency care.

President of the College Professor Frank Dunn CBE wrote to the Prime Minister in May 2015 expressing the College’s support for equality of healthcare in the emergency setting but concern regarding extending this to elective care. A survey of our members has demonstrated the commitment among hospital medical staff to seven day working. However, it is also clear that there are different levels of support services available during weekdays and at weekends. This includes administrative staff, portering services, access to investigations and primary care and community support. In addressing the issue of equity of care at the weekend, all of these factors need to be taken into account.

In his letter, Professor Dunn said, "This involves a wide range of areas right from primary care and social work through to the intensive care unit. Everybody who works in the health service appreciates the need to work at weekends, but to try and deliver elective healthcare in primary and secondary care would be, in my opinion, a step too far. It will redirect resources from the key area of emergency care."

Healthcare staff provide an outstanding service often in difficult circumstances. They too have major commitments within their family and personal lives, which must be respected when considering extension of hospital services.

The resources involved in providing elective services in primary and secondary care are substantial in terms of both staffing and finance. Neither of these are achievable in the current climate of the NHS.

The College is currently working with the Scottish Government to support the enhancement of seven day services for unscheduled admissions in Scotland. As we also have a significant constituency elsewhere in the UK, we are committed to provide advice and support throughout the four nations in this important area.

Back to all news

Share this story:

Latest news and statements

Key priority areas

Workforce Recovery and Transformation
Health services in many parts of the world are over-stretched due to workforce shortages, rising demand for services and difficulties in retaining staff.
Read more
A healthy healthcare workforce is essential for patient care. When the workforce is exhausted, experiencing burnout, and struggling to balance their work and personal lives, it impacts on everyone.
Read more
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
We are committed to standing up for equality, diversity and inclusion. We want our College to reflect the diversity in the NHS workforce and in the patients that we care for.
Read more
Climate Change and Sustainability
Climate change has caused great harm to our planet and warnings of increasingly extreme heatwaves, droughts and flooding will all place a significant burden on our health outcomes.
Read more
Health Inequalities
The health inequalities in our society have been both highlighted and exacerbated by the covid pandemic. There is a need to do things differently.
Read more
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on the lives of healthcare professionals, and the urgent need to learn whilemfocusing on delivering the best care for our patients has been an enormous challenge.
Read more



Key links

Contact us

Log in

Log in to access your Dashboard, book events, pay your subscriptions and access eLearning material.

Log in

Register an account

New users must register before logging in. You do not need to be a member of the College in order to register.



Having difficulty registering or logging in? Forgotten your username or password?

Get Help