freelance journalist, print journalist, online journalist, copywriter, content editor, freelance editor, health and lifestyle, blogger Weekends – not a good time to be hospitalised (again) | Christine Morgan - Journalist
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Well tell us something we don’t already know.

Over a year ago, I wrote about a study by Imperial College London that suggested being admitted to hospital at the weekend made you more likely to die than if you were taken ill during the week (see When NOT to get ill (part 2)).

And now, a survey by NHS London suggests that patients admitted to hospital at the weekend have a greater risk of dying than patients admitted during the week.

Hello? Isn’t that the same story?

Well yes, it’s the same, or similar, finding. Different survey though. But even so, talk about an overwhelming case of deja vu. Shouldn’t the powers that be actually do something about this problem, rather than allow researchers to come up with the same findings year after year? How many more times will we have to read these pitiful statistics before someone has the bright idea of sorting it out?

The latest survey – if you really want to  know – suggests 500 lives could be saved a year in London if more staff were employed at hospitals at the weekends, particularly hospital consultants (who allegedly spend an average of just four hours on site at the weekends compared to the 10 hours they are required to be available during the week), and if there was better access to diagnostic scans too.

So, you’re thinking, it all comes down to money, does it? Well in this economic climate, you’d be forgiven for jumping to the obvious cash-related conclusion. But no, according to Matt Thompson, professor of vascular surgery at St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust and the clinical director for the survey, it’s not about lack of money or understaffing – rather it’s a result of current working practices that leave some hospitals with insufficient consultant cover at weekends.

Oh for pity’s sake, pull your fingers out, will you, all you hospital managers out there? This utterly shoddy ‘working practices’ issue is costing far too many people their lives (500 a year in London and goodness knows how many across the nation as a whole). And if Mr Thompson is right, and it’s not about money, then you should all be doubly ashamed of yourselves.