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High weekend hospital death rates due to ‘multiple factors’ - not doctor availability
Staff shortages at
all levels, overcrowding, sicker patients and diagnostic test results delays
are among the reasons cited by doctors for the increase in hospital death rates
at weekends, a survey by healthcare intelligence provider Binley’s has found.
The survey, which was
conducted via Binley’s online HCP community, OnMedica, and asked more than 1,230
primary and secondary care doctors in England to cite the most important factor
in weekend hospital death rates, suggests that a wide range of issues could be to
Twenty percent of
respondents stated either overcrowding due to a rise in
unplanned admissions, or a slower turnaround in diagnostic test results.
Thirteen percent said lighter or reduced rostering of nursing staff and 11
percent lack of consultants reviewing sick patients.
Thirty seven percent
of respondents believed ‘other’ factors were primarily to blame, with comments
demand on services (both acute and chronic) with a massive under-availability
of manpower resources.”
that patients admitted are sicker. Little evidence that failure in clinical
care is the main cause.”
"It’s multifactorial -
reduced background support and reduced clinical staffing at all levels both in
hospital and in the community.”
"It’s a lack of junior and
middle grades that is the problem; there is only a skeletal medical staff. My
ITU has four trainee doctors in the day but only one out-of-hours and at
weekends. Consultants are not on the wards much more during the week - they are
in theatre or clinics mainly.”
Seventy-five percent of doctors
did not think hospital death rates would be reduced by consultants performing
routine work at weekends, 11 percent thought it would improve the situation and
14 percent did not know.
When asked to cite
the most important action that needed to be taken to reduce hospital death
rates at weekends, 23 percent of respondents said an increase in community
services to support terminally ill patients wishing to die at home.
was closely followed by faster access to diagnostic testing (22 percent) and
then an increase in the number of ward sisters and senior nurses working at
weekends (15 percent).
eight per cent of respondents thought that increasing the number of consultants
at weekends was the most important action that needed to be taken to reduce
hospital death rates at weekends and even fewer (six percent) cited increasing
the number of ancillary staff at weekends.
six percent of respondents selected ‘other reasons’, with comments including
‘stop underfunding the NHS’; ‘routine ward rounds (not necessarily
consultant led) to identify patients who are not doing well earlier and help to
discharge patients who are ready to go, thus reducing the bed crisis’, and ‘improve access to primary care and other
Sarah Eglington, healthcare intelligence director of Binley’s,
said: "Our research suggests that weekend hospital death statistics may arise
from a combination of factors, ranging from the type of patient who typically
uses out-of-hours services to access to diagnostic services and clinical
staffing at all levels.
"If it is to reduce weekend death rates in hospitals, the
Government must engage with clinicians in order to understand the myriad of
challenges faced by hospitals and other supporting NHS services, and create a
comprehensive and integrated strategy to tackle them.”
For more information, please contact:
Andrew Baud and Catherine McNulty, Tala
+44 020 3397 3383 / 07775 715775
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