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Seven day week for hospitals

16 Dec 2013

The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow welcomes the proposal by NHS England’s medical director, Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, to introduce a seven day working week for doctors in England.

The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow welcomes the proposal by NHS England’s medical director, Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, to introduce a seven day working week for doctors in England.

Research has shown that a five-day working week may be linked to higher death rates among patients admitted at weekends. The Royal College believes there should be equity of care for all emergency and urgent hospital admissions regardless of the day of the week.

About 40% of the Fellows and Members of the College are based in England.

A group of senior doctors, hospital managers, nursing staff and representatives from the Scottish Government who recently attended a symposium at the College agreed that the poorer outcomes for patients admitted at weekends and on public holidays had to be addressed.

The group also agreed that 7 day working for elective admissions should not be addressed until resources are in place for the emergency and elective admissions.

There was also acceptance of the need for more consultant presence at weekends. This is already happening in many hospitals throughout Scotland.

The Royal College believes that as well as "smarter working", financial assistance is inevitably going to be required. The current proposals for the NHS in England suggest that financial penalties will be applied to hospitals who do not fully comply with the new plans. We believe the threat of further financial pressures on hospitals by fines may serve to further exacerbate the problem given that many hospitals in England are already struggling under the burden of Private Finance Initiatives and other major financial pressures.

The President of Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, Dr Frank Dunn commented.

"Ensuring there are more consultants and senior doctors working weekends is not enough. There needs to be a full complement of staff including porters, nursing staff, administrators and doctors, in our hospitals at weekends and public holidays in order to allow necessary procedures to take place. We need to look at the whole team, not just the medical staff. Adequate resources must be provided to address this issue."

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