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Patients who suffer a stroke at the weekends are more likely to die or be severely disabled than those who are admitted during the week due to inadequate patient care, a recent study has revealed.
The research was undertaken by Imperial College London in conjunction with the National Audit Office and showed that patients admitted to hospitals after a stroke on a weekend were less likely to receive vital brain scans which could avoid complications including death.
Senior staff are less likely to be on duty on a weekend which means that stroke patients will often not be seen by neurologist or geriatric specialist and are more likely to be treated by a GP or A&E doctors from other specialities.
The lead researcher William Palmer wrote: “Strong evidence suggests that, nationally, stroke patients admitted on weekends are less likely to receive urgent treatments and have worse outcomes across a range of indicators. The evidence of lower performance across process and outcome measures on weekends suggests that care for patients admitted on weekends was inferior.”
Of the patients admitted to hospital after a stroke at the weekend, 350 die unnecessarily within seven days and 650 will be severely disabled. This effect is more pronounced in patients under the age of 44, who have a 60% increase in their chances of dying after a weekend admittance compared to patients over 85 years old.
Dr Tony Rudd, a spokesperson for the Royal College of Physicians, said: “It’s unacceptable for the NHS to be operating as if people only get ill between Monday and Friday, from nine ‘til five.”
Every year 150,000 people suffer a stroke, many of which are caused by high blood pressure and can leave patients disabled if they suffer brain damage and are not treated in time.