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Four day weekends will throw NHS into disarray

The President of the Society for Acute Medicine (SAM) says that patient care could be severely compromised by the two consecutive four day weekends at the end of April. Several previous studies have shown that hospital death rates are higher for patients admitted outside normal working hours. During the eleven days from the 22nd April to 2nd May, there will be only three normal working days in numerous NHS trusts. Many hospitals have no plans to ensure that the care of patients admitted to hospital during this period is not compromised.

Dr Philip Dyer, President of the Society for Acute Medicine said: “It is essential that hospitals start to plan for this period; consecutive 4 day weekends will have a major impact on patient care. Hospitals already stretched by understaffing, as highlighted in the recent NHS Staff survey, will be under even greater strain during these days. Closure of GP surgeries and reduction of community services will add to this pressure.”

A survey, conducted by the Society and published on the SAM website today found that:

  • Over 50% of respondents indicated that their hospitals had not yet made specific plans to limit the impact of the holiday weekends.
  • The majority of acute physicians responding to the survey (86%) believe that   additional resources to support services such as radiology will be essential during the bank holidays; however only 5% indicated that their hospital was planning to provide this.
  • Most respondents to the survey (86%) would be prepared to work a ‘normal working day’ on the 29th April – however less than half indicated that their hospital was considering running such a service.

Responding to the results of the survey, Dr Dyer added:

“Hospitals need urgently to develop robust plans for this period involving the full range of services, in partnership with general practitioners and other community teams. Hospital Trusts and General Practitioners should aim to run a normal service on the 29th April to minimise the impact of this additional holiday on patient care.”

Notes for editors:

  • Acute medicine (also known as Acute Internal Medicine) is the speciality which deals with the immediate and early treatment of adult patients with a variety of medical conditions who present in hospital as emergencies.
  • The Society for Acute Medicine is the National representative body for the speciality of Acute Medicine.
  • The President (Dr Philip Dyer) and Vice President (Dr Chris Roseveare) of the Society for Acute Medicine are available for interview.
  • Dr Dyer and Dr Roseveare are both Acute Medical Consultants with extensive experience of working on Acute Medical Units.

Contact:
Sarah Hunter-Argyle
Communications and Marketing Executive
Society for Acute Medicine
07502 439 570
acutemedicinecomms@gmail.com
The Society for Acute Medicine

Administration Office
9 Queen Street
Edinburgh
EH2 1JQ

www.acutemedicine.org.uk
Twitter – @acutemedicine

To read the full survey report click here.

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