Poor hospital weekend care kills 4,000 a year
Poor care in hospitals at weekends is killing more than 4,000 lives a year, NHS officials have warned- so Health Direct wishes you Good Luck if you are going under the knife today.The disclosure comes in an official review of Britain’s emergency and urgent healthcare which says the current system is unsustainable, unaffordable and soaking up more than half of the health service budget.
Health officials will on Monday launch plans which attempt to tackle a deepening crisis in Accident & Emergency (A&E) units, hospital wards and out-of-hours GP services.
They have collected evidence of system buckling under the strain and placing patients at increased risk – especially if they fall sick at weekends.
The dossier is published as NHS England begins a public consultation on a review which could lead to a major restructuring of the NHS, with specialist services concentrated in larger units and changes to put hospitals on a “seven-day” footing, with more consultants and diagnostic tests available at weekends.
The damning official report warns of:
- More than 4,400 lives a year lost in England because hospital mortality rates are worse at weekends, largely because of shortages of senior doctors;
- Spiralling numbers of patients readmitted to hospital because they were discharged too quickly, because of cuts to bed numbers;
- Evidence of a 30 per cent rise in death rates when casualty units are crowded;
- Widespread shortages of A&E doctors, with half of training posts unfilled for the past two years;
- Confusion among the public about how to access urgent care and lack of confidence in the care provided by GPs;
Despite widespread concerns about failings of the non-emergency 111 telephone line, which was introduced in most parts of England this year, the official leading the review said the future model of urgent and emergency care will rely heavily on phone-led services.
The report comes amid increasing fears about the pressures on A&E departments, which senior doctors have likened to “warzones,” while the head of the NHS regulator has said emergency care is “out of control”.
Specific proposals will be published in September, but ideas under consideration include increasing specialisation of some services, such as stroke and trauma, a drive to train more A&E doctors, investment in telemedicine, and changes to the disastrous 111 non-emergency phoneline, so that more clinically-trained staff are involved in decisions.
Pressures on A&E units in recent months have come amid the national roll-out of the 111 phone line, which was supposed to reduce the number of people arriving at hospitals, by diverting those with minor complaints to out-of-hours GP services.
Instead, there have been widespread concerns about areas in which the service has collapsed under the pressure of calls, while in others, call handlers without clinical training dispatched paramedics to the most trivial cases, heaping pressure on A&E units.
There have been investigations into at least 22 potential “serious untoward incidents” since April, including three deaths.
The report does not single out any one factor for the current pressure on hospitals, but says public confidence in 999 services is far higher than that in family doctors, while one in ten patients who fail to get a suitable GP appointment turn up at A&E.
In less than a decade, the number of calls for ambulances has risen from 4.7 million to over 8 million.
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