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Majority of doctors think weekday services will suffer if seven-day working contracts are introduced

Binley’s survey finds doctors do not believe NHS can afford truly 24/7 service

The majority of doctors surveyed by healthcare intelligence provider Binley’s think that the Health Secretary’s proposed seven-day working contracts for hospital consultants will lead to a reduction in secondary care services on weekdays.

The survey, which was conducted among more than 1,230 primary and secondary care doctors across England, via Binley’s online HCP community, OnMedica, showed that 92 percent of them thought some weekday hospital service reductions would be inevitable because trusts cannot afford to run a truly 24/7 service.

In line with this, 89 percent of respondents thought that introducing compulsory seven-day working contracts for hospital consultants would mean a shortage of those consultants during the week.

Comments from doctors who took part in the survey included: "As a patient, I would like a service that provides full and proper care regardless of the day of the week. As a doctor, I realise the NHS cannot afford to do this without significantly increasing staffing numbers and thus cost. If there are fewer consultants/doctors available during the week as a result of weekend working, then junior training, clinics, theatre lists etc will all run into problems.”

"It is absolutely insane to try to increase the amount of routine work done at weekends when hospitals are already bankrupting themselves trying to maintain the current service levels.”

"It is frankly stupid to think that elective work should be extended at weekends when my department lacks the resources and staff to adequately cover care for 9-5 on weekdays. More weekend staffing/services in real terms means reduced services during the week.”

"In my experience, I have never seen a patient become more unwell for lack of consultant care - the juniors and middle-graders managed most things well and knew when to call for help. I have, however, seen patients deteriorate for lack of nursing care and supervision. An increase in nursing care on the wards would make much more difference and sense.”

Sarah Eglington, healthcare intelligence director of Binley’s, said: "Our survey highlights deep concern among doctors about the consequences of offering a full seven-day service in which routine and elective work become the norm at weekends.

"What is best for the patient needs to be the primary consideration for the Government and doctors as they work together to find a solution to this situation. The Government needs to engage with doctors to better understand their concerns about the strain that increased weekend services will have on existing weekday ones.”

Press contact:
For more information, please contact: Andrew Baud and Catherine McNulty, Tala +44 020 3397 3383 / 07775 715775

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