Seven-day care plan welcomed in East Lancs

HEALTH campaigners in East Lancashire have welcomed news that hospitals will face sanctions unless they deliver the same standard of care seven days a week.

The shake-up was announced by Sir Bruce Keogh, NHS England’s medical director, and is aimed at cutting the increased death risk at weekends.

This could be as high as 11 per cent on a Saturday and 16 per cent on a Sunday, according to an analysis of more than 14 million hospital admissions in 2009/10.

Last month, the death rate at Royal Blackburn and Burnley General hospitals moved within the 'expected range'.

Under the plan, within three years all patients admitted to a hospital ward as an emergency will see a consultant within 14 hours, and those already in hospital will be reviewed by one every 24 hours.

Russ McLean, chairman of Pennine Lancashire Patient Voices group, said: “This is wonderful news for patients. Some of the statistics we have heard about weekend care are absolutely horrendous.

“I would want to see it implemented within 12 months, there will be logistical problems but it is important for patients.”

Sir Bruce said: “There is increasing evidence that mortality rates for patients admitted to hospitals on both sides of the Atlantic are higher at weekend.

“It seems inefficient that in many hospitals expensive diagnostic machines and laboratory equipment are underused at weekends, operating theatres lie fallow and clinics remain empty.

“We should also consider whether it is still acceptable for the NHS to expect people to always take time off work to access healthcare or to support a relative or friend to do the same?”

Opinion n 12 His plan will be put to NHS England's board tomorrow.

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