24/7 care: here's one NHS reform we should all agree on
I welcomed Jackie Ashley’s article on 24/7 Care and believe that Medical Royal Colleges are in the position you call for to “step forward and surprise you”.
All doctors are not opposed to the requirement for seven day services. Indeed the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges report on the Benefits of Consultant Delivered Care (January 2012) stated that it is ethically unjustifiable to provide a lesser standard of care to patients at weekends. This was followed by our Seven Day Consultant Present Care report (December 2012) which set out the standards required to ensure that the benefits of consultant-delivered care can be available to all patients regardless of the day of the week.
That report also made clear that to deliver this level of care it is likely that service reconfiguration onto fewer sites will be needed. That message was clearly reinforced in the Academy’s joint publication with the NHS Confederation and National Voices in May this year Changing Care, Improving Quality.
As Jackie Ashley states there will undoubtedly be arguments about the costs of seven day working and about the implications of service reconfiguration – and some of these may descend into petty point scoring.
However, I believe that the medical Royal Colleges, as the professional voice of doctors, have clearly nailed their colours to the mast and set out what is the right thing to do for patient safety and improved quality of care.
Professor Terence Stephenson
Chairman, Academy of Medical Royal Colleges