With David Cameron promising that England will “become the first country in the world to deliver a truly seven-day NHS” by 2020, what does that mean for us and is it really achievable?
Let’s look at why there is need for a seven-day NHS.
First of all, if you are admitted to hospital over the weekend with a life-threatening illness, then the mortality rate can increase by up 16%. The day of the week in which you fall ill should have no bearing on your chances of survival, but the harsh reality is that it does.
At present, anyone admitted suffering a heart attack, stroke or as a result of a serious accident may not receive the best possible treatment if senior consultants or more seasoned Doctors are not on duty. In addition, X-rays, MRI and CT scans are not always available 24/7 – again denying patients essential tools to help their fight for survival.
If a seven-day NHS is willing to offer these essential services then this can only be a good thing and one which the whole country will benefit from.
Another area in which the NHS would benefit from operating 24/7 is that there would be a vast reduction in the amount of patients waiting to be seen on a Monday morning. Currently Doctors are arriving at work on Monday already facing a huge backlog as a result of the weekend. Care Quality Commission Senior Medical Advisor Nick Bishop said: “You can’t get patients in because for the last two days you’ve had more admissions than discharges.” If a seven-day NHS can reduce the pressure for all NHS staff, then surely this a win-win situation for all concerned?
However… could this ever really happen? Early indicators are that this notion is folly. We are increasingly told how the NHS is struggling financially so – in this age of austerity – where is the extra money going to come from? In addition to cost, where are all the extra members of staff going to come from? The NHS is already struggling to fill vacancies as it is; how on earth will they recruit even more competent and professional staff? Currently in the UK, it can take up to 16 years of training before someone is a qualified Doctor. The maths just does not add up.
In a perfect world, a seven-day NHS would be fantastic – a service free for all as and when needed and would benefit all concerned. However the fear is that if the Government goes ahead with these plans without adequate funding and trained staff, then the NHS staff will be put under more pressure, which will be more detrimental to patients’ health and wellbeing.
Have you or someone you know been affected by out-of-hours medical negligence? Telephone 0800 234 3234 or 0151 321 1000 to discuss if you may be entitled to compensation for professional negligence.