Research News

“Weekend effect” is due to patient differences rather than staffing levels, study concludes

BMJ 2017; 357 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.j2331 (Published 12 May 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;357:j2331
  1. Jacqui Wise
  1. London

The “weekend effect” on mortality arises from patient level differences at admission rather than reduced hospital staffing or services, research published in the Lancet concludes.1

Substantial medical and media attention has been paid to the weekend effect—namely, that patients admitted to hospital at a weekend have greater mortality than patients admitted on weekdays.

In 2015 the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, claimed that 6000 avoidable deaths occurred each year and that a lack of weekend cover by consultants was a key factor. He cited various studies to support the government’s push to improve hospital services on Saturdays and Sundays and to justify imposing new contracts on junior doctors.234

Sarah Walker, of the Oxford Biomedical Research Centre, and colleagues analysed unselected emergency admissions …

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