Responding to analysis published in the BMJ on weekend admissions which found that fewer but sicker patients are admitted at weekends, and calls for more research into how services can be improved, Dr Mark Porter, BMA council chair, said:
“Doctors want the care we provide for sick patients to be of the same high standard, seven days a week. Urgent action on this has been undermined by calls for the entire NHS to be delivered on a seven-day basis without any clear prioritisation.
“The BMA wants better access to seven-day urgent and emergency care to be the priority for investment1. This will ensure seriously ill patients receive the best care at all times. Nine in 10 consultants already work around the clock delivering this care2but additional services will require not just more doctors, but extra nurses, diagnostic and support staff.
“David Cameron promised a ‘truly seven-day NHS’3 but there has been no detail to define what he means, how he plans to fund and staff it, and its impact on weekday services. Given the current funding squeeze on NHS Trusts, the only way for many hospitals to increase the number of doctors over the weekend would be to reduce the number providing care during the week.
“If the government really want to deliver more seven-day services then they need to show patients, the public and NHS staff their plan for how this will be delivered at a time of enormous financial strain on the NHS and when existing services and staff are under extreme pressure.”