Adapted from Baby it’s cold outside but don’t slip on the ice until Monday
Julia Manning for Daily Mail 3rd Feb
With the weather men and women rightly promising us snow last weekend, the advice from the NHS should have been be not to go outside until Monday. Not because it’s too cold, but because the chances are that if we have an accident, we will get a third-world level of treatment if we need to visit our local hospital. Last year a study from Dr Foster showed that patients admitted at weekends have a higher death rate. On Friday a large study by University College London agrees, showing a 16% higher death rate if you are admitted on a Sunday and an 11% higher death rate if you are admitted on a Saturday. And don’t think it’s just the elderly who have a poorer prognosis. A teacher at my daughter’s junior school fell over on the ice one December weekend. She died of undetected internal injuries – aged 32.
For those with more minor injuries, chances are you will be left languishing until the skeleton staff is bolstered on Monday. However a GP friend of mine saw his son’s fractured leg neglected from the Saturday of his accident to the following Wednesday when this GP finally got a hospital doctor to take some action and get his son treated and discharged.
Secretary of State Andrew Lansley has ordered a ‘fundamental rethink’ of how hospitals are run at the weekend. However as I said last November, we know there are too many hospitals with resources spread to thinly. Wouldn’t you prefer a longer ambulance journey with the confidence of immediate, high quality treatment than the uncertainty of a short journey that ends in a hospital ghost-town and prospects of inferior treatment?
The real scandal is that this isn’t news. We’ve known it for decades. Why haven’t hospital chief executives done something about this?