Health Direct wishes you a healthy weekend as deaths rates increase by third
With the weekend approaching Health Direct wishes you a healthy weekend- as new research shows that death rates increase by a third over weekdays in NHS hospitals.More than 3,000 people could be saved every year if weekend hospital cover and access to key medical facilities was as good as during the working week, a major analysis indicates.
Every year hundreds of thousands of people are admitted as emergencies with heart attacks, abdominal aneurysms, cancer and other conditions, and the study shows those who fall ill at weekends are significantly more likely to die.
Last year Dr Foster Intelligence, which analyses NHS data, found that on average the chance of dying in hospital following a weekend admission was 10 per cent higher than after a weekday admission.
But a new detailed breakdown by the firm shows that Patients need safe care 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for some conditions, the additional risk of dying after being taken ill at the weekend is more than triple that.
Dr Foster looked at the 12 biggest conditions where death rates for weekend admissions are higher than for weekday admissions. For each, at least 250 people die a year after being admitted at a weekend.
In total, they analysed 337,385 weekday admissions for those 12 conditions, and 100,590 weekend admissions.
Roger Taylor, director of research at Dr Foster, said: “These mortality figures are a worrying sign of the NHS’ failure to modernise its working practices.”
He said seven day working could help improved patient care and also “help NHS trusts run more efficiently”.
The research also revealed much lower access to some key medical tests at weekends.
For instance, the chance of getting a prompt emergency MRI scan at the weekend is almost half that on a weekday.
Dr Foster found the risk of dying in hospital of complications caused by thickening of the arteries, such as a heart attack, is 20 per cent for weekday emergency admissions.
For weekend emergencies, the figure rises to 28 per cent. That is an increase of eight percentage points, which translates to a relative raised risk of 40 per cent.
Patients with an abdominal aneurysm – where a major artery has burst or is about to do so – the death rate for weekday emergency admissions is 27 per cent. At the weekend that rises to 37 per cent, an absolute rise of 10 percentage points, but a relative rise of 37 per cent..
For pancreatic cancer, the weekday death rate is 25 per cent and the weekend rate 34 per cent – an eight point rise but a 36 per cent uplift in relative risk.
Large scale studies showed abdominal aneurysm patients did better if smaller units were downgraded and services centralised in larger hospitals, he said, even if that meant longer in an ambulance. The same has been shown for strokes: death rates dropped in London when services were reorganised in this way.
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