David Oliver: Seven day services and soundbites

“Our plans for seven day services are simple,” the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, clarified in his party’s conference speech in October.1 The Conservatives’ 2015 election manifesto pledged that hospitals would be “properly staffed, so the quality of care is the same every day of the week.”2 But detail was sketchy.

In 2014 NHS England’s Five Year Forward View had presaged this, saying, “To reduce variations in how patients receive care, we will develop a framework for how seven day services can be implemented affordably and sustainably.”3

Analysts at the Department of Health have warned of the risks and costs of seven day services, however.4 Reports galore have highlighted workforce gaps and declining performance, even with the current service offering.5 6 7 The government has been urged to clarify the specification of seven day services and whether these would include planned, not just urgent, care.8

Full article on The BMJ 11 November 2016