Why Is Weekend Medical Care Such An Issue?

Author:Ms Ali Malsher
Profession:Anthony Gold

Thirteen hospital trusts have higher than expected mortality indicator scores, according to a recent report by Dr Foster Intelligence.

The report lists trusts which have a higher than expected score on two or more different mortality indicators including the hospital standardised mortality ratio, deaths after surgery and deaths in low risk conditions.

Most of these are District General hospitals but the list includes University Hospitals Birmingham Foundation Trust. The report points to a 20% higher rate of mortality, 40% reduction in MRI scanning and a similar reduction in endoscopies.

Of significance is the fact that 66% of consultants interviewed consider that care at the weekend is poorer and nearly 75% of junior doctors came to the same conclusion.

There is a slight overlap between some of the trusts mentioned and those identified as part of the Sir Bruce Keogh review earlier this year. The Keogh enquiry looked at a number of different factors with a broader review including mortality, safety, workforce and leadership.

11 of the 14 trusts identified in the Keogh review were placed in special measures which force them to publish an improvement plan, have its leadership reviewed, be under scrutiny and be given extensive support.

Once again therefore the attention is on failing trusts and on inadequate care for patients.  For the vast majority of us who don't need to access health care regularly this is not an issue albeit a concern. For those who need medical treatment or for those who suffer an accident, the choice of trust and the time of admission suddenly become relevant. These are not necessarily things over which someone has control.

For clinical negligence lawyers some trusts are already associated with poorer record keeping, more limited care and failures to follow up.   Some hospitals rightly or wrongly are just known for problem care. They...

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