Hospitals ‘Must Act Now On Weekend Death Rate Concerns’

Experts Call For Quality Around-The-Clock Care Following Dr Foster Report’s Release

28.11.2011

Medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell have called on all NHS Trusts to ensure that patients have access to the best possible care regardless of when they are admitted to hospital, after the Dr Foster Hospital Guide 2010-11 confirmed that mortality rates rise sharply at some hospitals for patients admitted on Saturdays and Sundays.

This difference can be explained by

  • A lack of availability of specialty community and primary care services at the weekend
  • Less consistent availability of specialist services (eg diagnostics) at weekends
  • Differing staffing levels – especially availability of senior staff  within  hospitals

The NHS Trusts which show this difference are:

  • Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust
  • Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust
  • Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust
  • Scarborough and North East Yorkshire Health Care NHS Trust
  • Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals NHS Trust
  • Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust

Now, national law firm Irwin Mitchell is calling for urgent action to fully investigate the differences between weekday and weekend care standards to ensure that patients do not face a treatment lottery if admitted at weekends.

David Body heads the Medical Law and Patients’ Rights team at Irwin Mitchell, which acts for both patients and the families of those who have suffered as a result of negligence, errors or substandard care at NHS hospitals across the UK.

Commenting on the report’s findings, he said: “All patients across England should have access to best possible healthcare irrespective of when they are admitted to hospital. The Dr Foster report raises serious concerns that need to be quickly addressed and plans put in place to improve the outcomes at these hospitals,

“This worrying news comes as no real surprise to us as we have, for many years now, seen cases where innocent victims have been injured or even died as a result of hospital care at a weekend which fell short of the standards they were entitled to expect. Enough is enough.

“The trusts named in this damning report, and indeed the NHS as a whole, have to ensure that patient safety is their top priority – not just Monday to Friday but every hour of every single day.

“It is clear from the report that the NHS looks to apply good practice to learn from mistakes and adverse outcomes. The report demonstrates how some Trusts have already applied good practice to improve mortality measures

“Specific issues obviously include improving general staffing levels over weekends, as well as increasing the availability of more senior staff to enhance supervision and improve the quality of urgent clinical decision making.

“We have seen on too many occasions in the past instances when patients have suffered because of failings in weekend care which could and should have been avoided. Making it a goal to provide consistent care on every day of the week should boost patient safety and reduce the number of adverse incidents.”