Medical colleges call for daily checks by seniors
4 December 2012
Senior doctors should be on hand to review hospital patients seven days a week, a report recommends today.
Patients should be seen at least once in a 24-hour period, including at weekends and bank holidays, by a consultant or senior staff, associate specialist or specialty doctor unless deemed unnecessary.
This is the central recommendation of the AoMRC (Academy of Medical Royal Colleges) report, Seven Day Consultant Present Care.
It recommends a daily review by a consultant including interventions and investigations where the results will improve the patient’s overall care before the next normal working day and reduce his or her length of stay.
The BMA has welcomed the report and says it should be up to individual clinical teams to decide what is best for their patients.
The AoMRC also recommends that support services in the primary care community setting should be available daily should the consultant review require them for the patient’s care.
Patients who should be seen by senior doctors daily are defined as those for whom such a review could result in a timely investigation or diagnosis rather than those whose conditions require 24-hour consultant-led intervention in acute care.
BMA consultants committee chair Paul Flynn said: ‘While there is no definitive link between a lack of consultant presence at the weekend and health outcomes, there is mounting evidence that patients are more likely to die if admitted as emergencies in the evening and at the weekend.
‘This is a huge challenge for consultants and hospital managers and flexibility in developing new ways of working is vital. What works for one specialty may not be appropriate for another and it will be for senior doctors to discuss with their clinical teams what works best for their patients.’
He added: ‘Patients should receive high-quality care no matter when they are in hospital and we need to work together to explore how best to meet this challenge.’
The report follows the academy’s The Benefits of Consultant Delivered Care report, which was published in January, and called for a consultant-present service.
AoMRC chair Terence Stephenson said: ‘The evidence for the benefits of consultant-delivered care is clear. We hope these standards will be supported and acted upon by the NHS Commissioning Board so patients can receive the best care and treatment regardless of when they need it.’