The head of England’s Accident and Emergency departments has said he would ‘worry’ if his loved ones were taken to hospital at the weekends because there aren’t enough consultants.
Keith Willett, NHS England director of acute episodes of care, said that there was a ‘vulnerability’ in hospitals over the weekend.
Writing in an article for the NHS England website, he said: ‘All consultants recognise there is a vulnerability in hospitals over the weekend and I would challenge any consultant not to have a degree of anxiety if one of their own relatives was admitted to hospital at a weekend knowing the amount of current senior involvement there is.’
He said patients were ‘taking up hospital beds’ at the weekends and ‘treading water’ with no treatment or diagnosis.
He drew on his own experience as an orthopaedic trauma surgeon in Oxford 20 years ago as proof that keeping hospitals running at the weekend can actually save the NHS money.
He said routine surgery should be scheduled on Saturday and Sunday. He said consultants could be present to carry out routine operations when they were not dealing with emergencies, the Sunday Times reports.
He said: ‘We also showed in Oxford in 1994 how a seven day service could be highly efficient and cost effective. We reduced admissions and shortened length of stay– and we did it in a hospital that wasn’t really otherwise offering full seven day services.
‘We found that we were able to close down the number of beds – in fact it was reduced by 25 per cent – and that meant we released nursing costs, with that money going into the extra physiotherapy support we needed at weekends.
He added: ‘In terms of cost efficiencies in designing seven-day services, I believe the planned services must be looked at too – particularly for those specialties with lower demand of emergency work which alone wouldn’t justify senior doctor presence.
It comes after NHS England medical director for London Dr Andy Mitchell said hospitals in the city were occasionally ‘unsafe’ because medical staff were spread too thinly.
He warned that hospitals in the capital were ‘at breaking point’ and admitted senior managers are constantly ‘trying to patch up’.
Dr Mitchell, the medical director for NHS England in London said: ‘At times, throughout the week, even throughout the day, services aren’t safe.
‘I feel anxious sometimes about saying it is unsafe, because I, of course, have got a responsibility to change it and improve it, but we are trying to patch up all the time.
‘What we cannot do is carry on with the idea that all hospitals provide a whole range of services.
‘That is completely unsustainable and would become, frankly, unsafe, and is becoming unsafe in many areas.
‘The public doesn’t fully understand, isn’t really sufficiently aware, that many places don’t meet acceptable standards of care.’
Last week a report by the health watchdog Monitor warned that the NHS would be £30 billion in the red every year unless it made crucial changes to the way hospitals and other services run.
Source Mail Online