Hopsitals must provide seven days of care or face penalties

Trust Headquarters at Pinderfields Hospital
Trust Headquarters at Pinderfields Hospital

The district’s hospitals will have to make senior doctors, routine treatments and diagnostic tests available at weekends under NHS reforms.

Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust, which runs Pinderfields, Pontefract and Dewsbury hospitals, will be required to increase weekend care to ensure key services are available seven days a week.

Hospitals will be contractually bound to run a full service all week – and failure to do so could cost them millions of pounds in penalties.

The plans were agreed by NHS England last week, to cut increased death rates in hospitals at weekends, although Mid Yorkshire was recently praised for cutting weekend death rates by NHS analysts.

Wakefield councillors will discuss the move at a meeting of the Adults and Health overview and scrutiny committee on January 9.

A report to the meeting said: “Under the plan, within three years all patients admitted to a hospital ward as an emergency will see a consultant within 14 hours, and those already in hospital will be reviewed by one every 24 hours.

“Routine surgery will also be available for minor conditions, such as hernias, as well as blood tests, heart checks and biopsies, saving patients from having to take time off work.

“Services such as X-rays, ultrasounds, CT and MRI scans will be carried out promptly at weekends following the review.”

The report said the changes would add around two per cent to hospitals’ annual running costs.

A clause in some contracts which says NHS trusts cannot force consultants to work at weekends could also be scrapped.

And organisations which fail to provide enough consultants on weekends could be prevented from having contracts to train more junior doctors.

Hospitals will also be unable to achieve the highest ratings with NHS watchdog the Care Quality Commission unless they meet a condition which states: “For acute services to be judged safe, they have to be safe 24-7”, the report added.

Mid Yorkshire was named as one of 12 trusts which had improved death rates among emergency patients at weekends by health service monitor Dr Foster three weeks ago.

The trust also improved its overall Hospital Standardised Mortality Ratio (HSMR), a measure of deaths of patients while in hospital care.

Mid Yorkshire had an overall HSMR of 97, below the national average of 100 and down from 108 a year ago.

The Trust’s weekend HSMR score was 99.