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More weekend consultant cover could prevent deaths

Increasing cover by consultants in acute medical and surgical units at weekends could prevent more than 500 deaths a year in London, early findings from a review of acute medicine and emergency general surgery services in the capital have shown.

The electronic survey of the 31 hospital emergency units in London, conducted in March by the strategic health authority NHS London and London Health Programmes, an NHS unit that aims to improve the delivery of healthcare in the capital, found that on-call consultant presence on site is significantly less overnight and at weekends than on weekdays.

Only half of patients admitted as medical emergencies at the weekend were “always” seen by a consultant within 12 hours, compared with three quarters on weekdays.

The draft report Acute Medicine and Emergency General Surgery: Case for Change also shows that in 2009-10 the hospital mortality rate in London was 0.32% higher for patients admitted at the weekend than among patients admitted during the week.

Read more at the BMJ.

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