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Top Doctors 'Must Work Weekends To Cut Deaths'
Severely ill hospital patients should have access to consultant doctors for at least 12 hours a day, seven days a week to reduce the number of hospital deaths which occur out of hours, leading doctors have said.
The recommendation is part of new guidance released by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) and Society of Acute Medicine (SAM).
The guidelines say specialists should be dedicated to the care of seriously ill patients every day, ensuring their care does not deteriorate at weekends.
Patients in acute medical units - the first point of entry for those requiring admission from A&E - should also be checked by doctors twice a day.
The guidance comes after a recent RCP poll found patients admitted to hospital at weekends were more likely to die than those admitted during the week.
A patient admitted to A&E on a Saturday or Sunday has a 9.5% higher risk of dying compared to the rest of the week, data shows.
SAM president Dr Chris Roseveare told The Daily Telegraph: "Clearly, when you go to hospital as an emergency you are vulnerable.
"You need to be cared for by someone with the skills to deal with the acute problem. Consultants have those skills.
"Going into a hospital where there isn't a consultant available is something we want to avoid."
But he added: "There's a culture in which consultants are traditionally reluctant to provide weekend working."
Dr Mark Temple, acute care fellow at the RCP, said: "Consultant review of acutely ill patients 12 hours a day, seven days a week is key to the delivery of care that is of the highest quality on the acute medical units."