Intended for healthcare professionals

Head To Head

Should the NHS work at weekends as it does in the week? No

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 21 February 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f622
  1. Paul Flynn, chairman
  1. 1BMA Consultants Committee, London, UK
  1. PFlynn{at}

Some royal colleges recently advised that patients should get the same consultant led care at weekends as they do on weekdays. Bruce Keogh (doi:10.1136/bmj.f621) agrees that this would benefit patients, but Paul Flynn sees little justification for elective care at weekends and asks who’s going to pay

Over the past two decades the NHS has been afflicted by the application of policies and practices copied from the world of business, where they have often already become obsolete. From fundholding onwards, policy makers have steadfastly ignored the obvious difference in the NHS, which is that NHS providers have only a limited ability to seek out new revenue in the way that other businesses can. What the NHS does is to care for people, and it is when it stops doing that in favour of providing services to customers that the rot really sets in.

It is inarguable that patients who need to seek medical care at weekends should receive the same standard of care as they do during the week, and the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges1 and individual royal colleges have set standards to reflect this. …

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