A major new study has backed up recent research that indicated patients were more likely to die if they were admitted to hospital at a weekend.
In November, a report indicated that patients admitted to hospital in need of emergency care were 10% more likely to die if they had been admitted over a weekend.
The new research carried out by University College London, the University of Birmingham and the University of East Anglia has backed up the previous research.
The new research looked at over 14 million hospital admissions. Between 2009 and 2010 over 180,000 patients died within 30 days of being admitted to hospital. There was a 16% increase in the risk of dying for those admitted to hospital during a Sunday than there was for those admitted mid-week.
One researcher suggested that seriously ill patients may be more likely to be admitted over a weekend, whereas those who were less ill may have the admission postponed until a mid-week date.
Other experts suggest that reduced staffing levels and poor access to diagnostic tests over a weekend may also account for the differences.
The researchers confirmed that they tried to account for the severity of illnesses and that they didn’t know whether this was a bigger factor in the increased death risk at weekends than how the services were run.
The NHS medical director Sir Bruce Keogh suggested that the results add weight to the argument that NHS services should be extended throughout the weekend.