NHS accident and emergency departments have half as many senior doctors on duty at weekends compared with Monday to Friday, according to a major investigation which uncovers serious inadequacies in out-of-hours care.
The new figures from across the health service indicate the worst times to fall ill, with access to hospital consultants dramatically worsening at weekends and evenings. However, patient demand for emergency care remains consistent throughout the week, with only a small spike on Mondays.
Some hospital trusts have no consultants working in A & E on weekend nights and rely on senior doctors who are on call, further increasing the risks. Patients’ groups said the findings showed the need for urgent action.