Colchester: People are more likely to die at Colchester Hospital at the weekend rather than in the week - report

Colchester General Hospital Colchester General Hospital

Monday, December 9, 2013
9:00 AM

People are more likely to die at Colchester General Hospital at the weekend compared to during the week, according to a new report.

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The study, by statistics firm Dr Foster, showed that people who need to recover in hospital at the weekend after surgery fare worse than those who have an operation earlier in the week.

Eight trusts in the report, including Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust, have higher death rates at the weekend than weekdays.

A spokesman for the trust said: “We are committed to improving the safety and quality of care we provide for our patients and had already recognised that there was a need to improve staffing levels at weekends.

“Over the past two years we have been extending seven-day working across the organisation to increase the number of clinical staff who work on Saturdays and Sundays.”

The spokesman said between March and November this year, the number of nurse shifts at weekends increased by 10% and that since January, an additional 110 nurses have been recruited and a further 140 nurses will be at Colchester General Hospital and Essex County Hospital by the end of the month.

An extra 16 consultants have also been recruited in the past four years.

The spokesman added: “The trust’s overall mortality rate (Hospital Standardised Mortality Ratio) is within the expected range and the actual number of deaths in our hospitals has been falling progressively over the last few years.

“However, we will continue to place a high priority on reducing mortality rates throughout the week.”

The report noted that while weekend care appears to be improving, there are still variations and a lack of access to diagnostic tests. The number of emergency MRI scans carried out on weekends is 42% lower than during the week.

Overall the study says patients are less likely to receive treatment on weekends or have an emergency surgery within a day or two of being admitted.

Roger Taylor, Dr Foster director of research, said: “We have now looked at many different aspects of quality of care.

“Every indicator we look at shows that patients who come to hospitals on weekends get worse care and worse outcomes.

“We are pleased that the NHS has made addressing this issue a priority and there is evidence that these efforts are already starting to yield benefits for patients with shorter waits for operations at weekends and, in some cases, lower mortality.”

Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt said: “I want to see the NHS giving the same high-quality care seven days a week, and it is good to hear that things are improving. But it is completely unacceptable that some patients are still suffering simply because it is the weekend.”