The head of the NHS in England has told ITV News that his plans to improve the quality of Hospital care at weekends should pay for themselves. Sir Bruce Keogh has threatened multi-million pound fines for hospitals that fail to meet the same standards seven days a week.
But doubts are being raised about whether it can really be done without a major investment.ITV News Political Correspondent Claire Stewart reports:
Patients should be at the heart of the NHS and be able to depend on it every day - not just Monday to Friday, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said today, after NHS England's Medical Director called for more senior doctors to work during the weekend.
Mr Hunt said: "I want the NHS to expand to provide seven day services so that more patients get the right care, when they need it. It is great news that Sir Bruce Keogh will be setting out his plans for the NHS to provide seven day services."
The Government must set out how it plans to pay for better weekend hospital care, shadow health secretary Andy Burnham has said, after NHS England Medical Director Sir Bruce Keogh called for more senior doctors to work on weekends.
Mr Burham said: "It would not be progress if it is achieved by closing smaller A&Es or raiding other services, such as community or mental health services. This would take the NHS in the wrong direction - forcing even more people into hospital, when the future demands more care in the home.
"If this plan is to have any credibility, the Government must urgently stop the cuts to front-line staffing...Things will not get better unless the Government first stops the rot."
The British Medical Association is in talks with the government on how to establish quality patient care in the NHS seven days a week.
The BMA has renewed its backing for the move as NHS England's medical director Professor Sir Bruce Keogh prepares to unveil a £2 billion plan to address the drop in quality of care in the NHS on Saturdays and Sundays.
But the BMA warned that providing more doctors alone would not be enough and that giving them sufficient diagnostic and community support would be crucial.
NHS England's medical director Professor Sir Bruce Keogh will unveil a £2 billion plan to address the drop in quality of care in the NHS on Saturdays and Sundays, according to the Daily Telegraph.
Keogh looks set to announce the recommendations on Sunday after a year-long inquiry into NHS care.
It is understood Sir Bruce will call for changes to increase the number of senior doctors working on weekends after research found that 4,400 lives a year are lost largely because of inadequate staff cover.