Patient need should trump service convenience

A link to a very short article in the Independent today, NHS ‘should operate seven days a week’.

When you stop you stop to think about this, it is amazing that this has taken so long to come to the top of the agenda. Granted, there are medical issues that can wait until Monday and elective surgery times can be chosen by definition. But broadly, people can’t chose what day of the week they have their accident, heart attack, onset of labour or other unpredictable event. Also those who have a long stay in hospital will be there over the weekend and they should expect the same standard of care and medical cover every day of the week.

The NHS should have been set up from the beginning to serve the need of the public, at the time they need it. Not to mention the waste of the theatres and diagnostic facilities that must lay dormant between Friday evening and Monday morning.

However, is this an easy thing to change, given how entrenched a five-day week is in the NHS? No, of course not.

The other thing to point out is that Sir Bruce Keogh, medical director of the new NHS Commissioning Board, is quoted in the article as saying that “the NHS had to learn from private sector companies such as Tesco”. Pointing to private sector companies may be a way to justify a change but it shouldn’t be the driver for action. In this case the NHS only needs to look at the requirements of its patients. What Tesco or anyone else does is irrelevant. It is your own system that should be the primary place to learn how to improve your own system.



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