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Doctors back 7-day service but question how it will work

Jeremy Hunt has said doctors hours will remain within a safe limit. Credit: PA

Doctors back a seven-day NHS service but want the government to outline how they will fund and staff it.

Chair of the British Medical Association Dr Paul Flynn said: "There is clear public support for more weekend services, but no clear plan on how this will be delivered.

“At a time when the NHS is facing a £22 billion funding shortfall, many hospitals are in the red and weekday services are under strain.

"The government must explain how they plan to expand services by up to 40% across the week.

"How will they pay for it? How will they ensure there isn’t a reduction in mid-week services? How will they put in place the support doctors need to deliver the same high standard of care over seven days?"

Hunt: Patients more likely to die if admitted on weekend

Patients are 15% more likely to die if they are admitted to hospital on a Sunday than a Wednesday, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said.

Giving a speech at the King's Fund, he claimed this leads to 800 "avoidable deaths" a month.

"I've yet to meet a consultant who would be happy for their relative to be admitted on a weekend," he said.

Other mistakes which should never happen include operations carried out on the wrong side of the body - which occurs on average twice a week.

Hunt said: "Hospitals up and down the country are making the same tragic mistakes. We need a more human-centred system which puts patients rather than targets first."

Launching 'NHS Improvement', which he wants to be the "safest healthcare system in the world", he said in the next five years he expected:

  • The majority of doctors to be on a seven-day working week which means they would work weekends but not more hours than is safe.
  • A new 'no-blame' patient safety service to be set up to reduce fatalities and costs.
  • Seamless access to electronic health records which can be shared
  • NHS trusts to be enrolled in a "buddying programme" with Virginia Mason Hospital in Seattle, which is billed as the safest hospital in the world.
  • The introduction of new medical devices which can send emergency alerts to ensure ambulances arrive quicker.

Employment agencies being made 'scapegoats' over NHS

'Poor workforce planning' is to blame for rising staff costs in the NHS not the tactics of employment agencies, according to an recruitment expert.

Tom Hadley, director of policy at the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, which advises the government on the labour market, told ITV News that the government had sets its aim on the wrong target over the issue.

"The real reason why costs have escalated is because there's a huge demand for staff in the NHS, so the real challenge is how do we bring more people into the NHS," he said.

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Agency staff shouldn't be 'the norm', says health secretary

Jeremy Hunt has set his sights on the agencies who supply staff to the NHS, accusing them of ripping off the taxpayer.

The Health Secretary, who has today launched plans to limit the role of employment agencies within the Health Service, told ITV News how non-permanent staff shouldn't be used as the "norm".

"There will always be a need for agency staff... but they should be there for those times when there is a cold snap, when there's a flu outbreak, when you have sudden spike in demand you couldn't predict," he said.

Hunt: Debate showed 'chaos' of Labour coalition

Jeremy Hunt has said that the challengers' debate revealed the 'secret negotiations' which he said would have to happen if Ed Miliband needed to form a coalition after the election.

He went on say the lack of consensus shown would lead to a 'coalition of chaos.'

What we saw tonight was the negotiations that will happen in secret if Ed Miliband were to win the election and were to have to form a coalition with other parties of the left. And we saw they couldn't agree on Trident, they couldn't agree on the NHS.

– Jeremy Hunt
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