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Since the Health Secretary in England, Jeremy Hunt said he is prepared to remove ‘opt-out’ from weekend working for newly qualified hospital doctors, there has been a lot of public discussions on hospital cover at weekends.  Patients and professionals alike, have a lot to say on this issue. 

The announcement has also sparked debate here within our own Health and Social Care service. People in Northern Ireland would welcome 7 day working for hospital consultants.  Patients want access to the same level of care whether that’s 9am on a Tuesday or lunchtime on Saturday.

There are several advantages to this way of working. Patients could receive direct consultant input at all times. Care would not be reduced at weekends or out of hours, and in addition trainee doctors would be under close consultant supervision at all times. The current situation can led to delays in decisions about care including discharge and admission which results in waiting times increasing elsewhere in the system.

Nurses and other Allied Health professionals currently provide around the clock cover and many hospital consultants who have adopted 24 hour working find there are many advantages including greater job satisfaction.


Cost and money will rightly be part of any discussion to change the current service provision, however it is the safety and care of patients that must be the single most important consideration.

Patients must be at the centre of any changes to services, whether that’s in hospitals or in the community.  Over the next few months, we will watch with interest as to how this situation unfolds.

Have you had experience of going into hospital at the weekend? Do you think we have a 24/7 Health and Social Care service here?

Please keep your responses short and within the editorial guidelines. Thank You.

Courtesy of Client & Patient Council

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