NHS Seven-Day Working: Until It Improves, Protect Yourself8th Dec 2015
Read the headlines and you could be forgiven for thinking that hospitals close on Sundays like some quaint High Street shops.
Clearly they do not. They are open 24/7/365. But as UK medical negligence solicitors, we know that hospitals can sometimes deliver lower standards of care at weekends.
Data published recently in the British Medical Journal showed that admissions on Friday carried an average two per cent increase in the risk of death - rising to 10 per cent on Saturdays, 15 per cent on Sundays and five per cent on Mondays.
Dig deeper and you will find heartbreaking stories of human tragedy: one national newspaper reported on the deaths of three babies - all of whom had been born at (or minutes before) weekends. In each case there had been staffing issues.
The NHS’s problems delivering full seven-day services will not be fixed anytime soon. Not while it is as under-resourced as it is.
Do not let doctors’ last-minute decision not to strike - nor the Chancellor’s announcement of extra funding for the NHS - lull you into a false sense of security.
An extra £3.8 billion will not go very far when the NHS is already struggling to get by on £115 billion a year.
So in the meantime, what’s the solution? Vigilance and teamwork - see yourself as part of the process, don’t assume that the very busy clinicians have got it right.
If you are concerned about something then voice those concerns. In a usual case you are entitled to know the material risks involved in any proposed treatment, any reasonable alternatives together with the risks and benefits so that you can make an informed decision about proceeding.
So do not accept everything you are told at face value; ask sensible, straightforward questions about your diagnosis, treatment plan and progress. We recommend that you keep a record of such discussions and of any material events in hospital.
Hopefully everything will go well with your treatment but if things do not go as planned then we are here for you. As a Legal 500 recommended law firm, we handle medical negligence and personal injury cases from all over the country.
Nobody wants to sue the NHS. It is a much loved national institution with caring staff. But in our experience those same people can close ranks very rapidly if something goes wrong.
For expert legal advice, contact the head of Coles Miller’s Clinical Negligence Department, Partner David Simpson, 01202 355695.