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Bank holiday danger for emergencies

Thursday January 24th, 2013

Bank holidays are even more dangerous for emergency patients than weekends, researchers warn today.

The latest findings come as a separate study highlighted the massive pressure faced by emergency departments on Mondays.

Research in the Emergency Medicine Journal shows that patients admitted to hospital as medical emergencies on bank holidays are nearly half as likely to die within seven days than other patients.

Over the period of a month the increased risk is 27%.

Researchers contrast this with studies showing the death rate for patients admitted at weekends is 10% greater than on weekdays.

The research involved an analysis of some 20,000 medical emergencies over a three year period at one hospital.

According to Dr Sian Finlay, of the Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary, Scotland, bank holiday patients may be victims of a "cumulative" effect as these holidays are usually on Mondays.

Dr Finlay writes: If we assume that patients with severe illnesses are no more likely to be admitted on any one day of the week than any other, then it becomes difficult to escape the view that a cumulative effect of lack of services and/or lack of doctors on public holidays must have a part to play in the higher public holiday mortality demonstrated in this study."

* The second analysis shows that accident and emergency departments face twice the average rate of patients on a Monday morning.

The Health and Social Care Information Centre found that English hospitals saw 4,000 patients an hour on Monday mornings compared with 2,000 on average in the last year. Similar rates were seen the year before.

Dr Mark Newbold, chair of the NHS Confederation Hospital Forum, suggested the reason was because patients and GPs sought to avoid weekend admissions.

He said it was a "clear sign" that the system was not working.

He said: "Urgent illness, trauma and accidents don't take a break over weekends and bank holidays, nor do they respect a 9-5 working day.

"It is essential that we look at all options for urgent and emergency care, and how it joins up with community and primary care, so patients know their health service will respond appropriately no matter what time they need care."

Emergency medical admissions, deaths at weekends and the public holiday effect. Cohort study Emergency Medicine Journal 24 January 2013; doi 10.1136/emermed-2012—2-1881 [abstract]

Tags: A&E | NHS | UK News

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