Hunt’s advisors claim seven-day NHS might not cut weekend deaths

By Joe Mellor, Deputy Editor

Even the Health Secretary’s team can’t pin point evidence that extra staffing over the weekend period will cut deaths on Saturday and Sunday.

A leaked document has admits that his trusted advisors can’t prove that his seven-day demands are going to work. This would drastically his argument for ensuring junior doctors accept his new contract.

The document says the department: “cannot evidence the mechanism by which increased consultant presence and diagnostic tests at weekends will translate into lower mortality and reduced length of stay.”

The leaked Department of Health report, handed to the Guardian, also thinks that community and social services would not be able to cope with increased numbers of hospital discharges at weekends.

The Health Secretary was also warned he would require 11,000 new staff to make hospitals run in the same way over weekends as they do every day – at a cost £900m more a year to the public purse.

Critics have accused Mr Hunt of frequently misrepresenting reports that say increased staffing on weekends would lower death rates.

Recently, he misquoted NHS chief Sir Bruce Keogh twice during an interview on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show. Numerous doctors have said Mr Hunt has misrepresented a paper written by Sir Bruce for the British Medical Journal which, he claims, supports up his argument.

A Department of Health spokesperson told the Guardian said: “There is clear, independent clinical evidence of variation in the quality of care across the week and, working together with the NHS, we are determined to tackle this problem. Making sure the right staff and support is available for all patients seven days a week is a key part of our approach.”

Alongside these accusations against Mr Hunt, an NHS whistleblower told MPs that Hospitals are coming under pressure to hide the funding black holes in their accounts.

Anonymous evidence discussed concern that national regulators were pressuring NHS providers to “potentially mislead the public and government departments” over financial performance of their health services.

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