Doctors support more seven-day hospital services and have repeatedly called on the government to outline how they will fund and staff them. Despite whatever the health secretary may claim, his simplistic approach ignores the fact that this is a much broader issue than just doctors’ contracts.
Jeremy Hunt’s announcement is nothing more than a wholesale attack on doctors to mask the fact that for two years the government has failed to outline any concrete proposals for introducing more seven-day hospital services. The health secretary has questions to answer. How does he plan to pay for it? How will he ensure there isn’t a reduction in mid-week services or fewer doctors on wards Monday to Friday? Yet again there are no answers.
More than 80% of the public believe that doctors alone cannot deliver seven-day services without proper support, yet the health secretary makes no mention of the extra nurses, diagnostic staff, porters, admin staff – the list goes on – that would be needed to deliver the same high level standard of care patients deserve seven-days a week.
Doctors believe patients should have access to the same quality of care, seven days a week. If the health secretary wants the same he should be working with us, not setting artificial deadlines and attacking the very people who are the leading advocates for patients, protecting and improving patient care in the face of unprecedented rising demand and funding deficits.
This is a blatant attempt by the government to distract from its refusal to invest properly in emergency care. So, I say again to the health secretary, get real and show us what you mean.