From Keighley News, May 7th, 2018
PATIENTS admitted to Airedale Hospital at weekends are more likely to die than those getting medical help during the week, according to NHS figures. NHS Digital measures mortality as a ratio between weekend and midweek patients, and found the death rate for all patients was higher at the weekend at Airedale, and at Bradford Royal Infirmary and St Luke's. Patients who were admitted as an emergency were also more likely to die on Saturday and Sunday. In 2015, health secretary Jeremy Hunt attempted to address the “weekend effect” with the introduction of seven-day working contracts for doctors, which led to the first all-out doctors’ strike in NHS history.
Some doctors and academics have criticised the Government’s flagship policy for putting extra pressure on staff without providing better patient outcomes, as well as questioning the data on which it is based.
Rachel Meacock, an academic at the University of Manchester, co-authored a paper which found that mortality rates were higher at the weekend, but only because fewer patients were admitted, and these patients tended to be sicker.
John Grogan, MP for Keighley, said research shows that people who are particularly unwell go to hospital on a weekend.
He added: “At first sight these statistics are concerning and I will raise them at my first meeting with the new chief executive of Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, Brendan Brown.
“On the other hand, a recent study in the British Medical Association Journal suggested a higher proportion of patients admitted to hospital at the weekend arrived by ambulance, which researchers say is an important indication of being more seriously ill.
“In other words patients admitted at the weekend are on average more ill than those who would present themselves to appointments during the week.”
Karl Mainprize, medical director at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The outcome for our patients is fundamentally important to us and data shows that Airedale has a lower than expected mortality rate when compared to nationally.
“All the deaths reviewed demonstrate Airedale has no avoidable deaths, regardless of when the patient was admitted.
“In addition I would like to reassure our local community that if patients become seriously ill, whether during the day, at night or at a weekend, we have staff available around the clock to care for them.”