The provision of seven day services is about ensuring that patients receive consistent high quality safe care every day of the week. There are three key elements:
- Routine general practice; access to GP appointments in the evenings and at weekends
- Urgent care; access to healthcare advice 24/7 via NHS 111
- Quality hospital care that will provide 100% of the population with access to the same level of consultant assessment and review, diagnostic tests and consultant-led interventions every day of the week by 2020.
For hospital services, the Government’s Mandate to NHS England for 2016/17 sets a priority deliverable that NHS England will work with others to:
- Rollout 4 priority clinical standards in all relevant specialties to 25% of the population in 2016/17; by 2020 roll out seven day hospital services to 100% of the population (with progress also made on the other six standards identified by the NHS Services, Seven Days a Week Forum), so that patients receive the same standards of care in hospitals, seven days a week.
What does this means for patients?
For extreme emergencies like serious injuries, heart attacks and strokes the NHS already provides care 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The four priority clinical standards, once in place, will ensure that if you are admitted to hospital with sudden severe illness you can expect to receive the same quality of assessment, diagnosis, treatment and review in hospital on any day of the week.
This means you should be seen by a consultant within a few hours and at the latest by the morning after arrival. If the consultant advises urgent tests or treatments you should get these the same day. While you are being treated in hospital you can expect to see a consultant or one of their team every day to make sure that your care is progressing and that you are given information and an opportunity to ask any questions.
What does this mean for the NHS?
Delivering the Forward View: NHS planning guidance 2016/17 – 2020/21 sets out that every health and care system should work together to produce a multi-year Sustainability and Transformation Plan, showing how local services will evolve and become sustainable over the next five years.
Seven day hospital services should be an integral part of these plans and local areas should set out how they intend to deliver the four priority clinical standards, which in turn should support implementation of the other six standards.
This programme is about patients admitted in an emergency having access to the same high quality of in-patient care on every day of the week. It does not mean that elective care needs to be available every day. It also doesn’t mean that all staff working will work on a seven day basis, although many already do so. It also doesn’t mean that all providers should be offering all specialities seven days a week, as trusts can work together in networks to ensure that people have access to seven day services.