A workforce already stretched over five days, can’t stretch to seven

With the waiting list of patients waiting for planned NHS care at over 7 million, up from 4.4 million before the pandemic, and performance against cancer and A&E targets at a record low, the idea that the NHS should be working flat out seven days a week to increase activity is once again being voiced. Andrew Stein, a consultant in renal and general medicine, told BBC Radio 4’s Today news programme:

The NHS simply won’t work unless we work seven days a week. No individual has to work seven days a week, but there’s no reason why we couldn’t have two shifts, for example, with one team working Monday to Thursday and the other one [working] Thursday to Sunday.

Stein likened Friday afternoon in an NHS hospital as being like the ‘Mary Celeste’, with people starting to head to the car parks at 12 and by 2pm it’s all quiet.

Reacting to Stein’s comments, Vishal Sharma, chair of the BMA’s Consultants Committee, said:

Hardworking doctors and NHS staff will not recognise the description of the NHS being like the Mary Celeste on a Friday afternoon. These comments are hugely disrespectful and very disheartening when the truth is that the NHS is under extreme pressure and staff are routinely having to work above and beyond to provide care for their patients.

Full story in The Lowdown, 21 November 2022