Hospital treatment should not depend on the day of the week

05 November 2013

Whatever time of day or night you arrive at hospital and regardless of the day of the week, you should expect the same standard of care, according to a group of senior doctors, hospital managers. nursing staff and representatives from the Scottish Government who attended an open discussion at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow yesterday.

The event – titled "Why Should we extend the working week?" – was hosted by the College's president, Dr Frank Dunn. The symposium comprised a series of lectures from experts in acute and emergency medicine, and radiology and a series of workshops.

It has previously been established that patients are more likely to die when they are admitted to hospital at weekends –especially bank holiday weekends and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow finds this unacceptable. A recent survey of the College membership revealed that less than 25% of its members believe the current service provision over five days is sufficient, while more than 76% believe access to some hospital services is needed 24/7 to deliver safe patient care.

This event was organised to lead an open discussion about the challenges and practicalities of dealing with the issue head on.

Outcomes from the discussion were:
  • There should be equitable standards of care throughout the week, weekends and public holidays.
  • Practices to prevent admissions need to be examined so that unnecessary admissions are prevented.
  • Some patients could be discharged from hospital sooner if adequate support services were in place over the weekend. Currently, people admitted to hospital over the weekend need to wait until the beginning of the week to be discharged.
  • There was little support for outpatient assessment and procedures at weekends. The focus for now should be on ensuring equity of care for acute admissions.
  • Adequate resources must be provided to address this issue.

Dr 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."

The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow is committed to working with governments by sharing the outcome of this meeting and contributing to ongoing discussions to resolve this key aspect of health care.

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