Royal Colleges back 7-day services campaign

The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges has thrown its weight behind a campaign for the introduction of seven day services across the NHS.

Britain’s most senior doctors, represented by the AoMRC, which supports the Royal Colleges, say treating patients in inadequately staffed hospitals at weekends is “ethically unjustifiable” and must end urgently.

The decision for the AoMRC to speak out comes at a crucial time as the NHS Services, Seven Days A Week Forum, considers the initial reports of its five workstreams set up to gather evidence on urgent and emergency care and diagnostic services. The Forum is due to present its report later in the autumn.

The declaration of support came from the AoMRC in a letter to the Sunday Times (the document is available on our archived website), saying it was backing the paper’s seven day services campaign called Safe Weekend Care.

The leaders of Britain’s surgeons, physicians, psychiatrists and GPs say it is time for levels of consultants on wards at the weekends to be increased so patients receive the same standard of treatment on a Saturday or Sunday as they would on a Tuesday morning.

In its letter the AoMRC states: “It is ethically unjustifiable to provide a lesser standard of care to patients at weekends.”

It adds: “While in the past the NHS may not have recognised the importance of consistency of care across the week, we do not believe that to be the case now. This is shown by the range of activity under way, including that of Sir Bruce Keogh’s NHS England forum.”

In an interview with the Sunday Times, Terence Stephenson, academy chairman, explained the medical profession has since 2012 highlighted the dangers and now wants the NHS to make resources available to allow the service to run seven days a week.

He said: “The academy, which represents the majority of the 220,000 doctors in the UK, is very strongly behind the idea of a seven-day National Health Service. It is not right the quality of care is lower and people’s chances of dying are higher on a Sunday than a Tuesday and our members strongly believe that care should be as good at the weekend as other days.”

The letter was signed by Mr Stephenson as well as by Professor Norman Williams, President of the Royal College of Surgeons of England; Dr Clare Gerada, Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners and Professor Sue Bailey, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists.