Children ‘get better care in hospital at weekends’

Adult figures 'should not be extrapolated' to children. Picture: TSPL
Adult figures 'should not be extrapolated' to children. Picture: TSPL
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Children are not more likely to die after being admitted to hospital at weekends, according to new research which found paediatric care in Scotland may actually be better during Saturday and Sunday.

The paper, which will be presented at a conference in Edinburgh today, found there were 251 child deaths between Monday and Friday in Scottish hospitals between 2000 and 2013, compared to 84 at weekends.

Our research shows no more deaths over weekends

Dr Steve Turner

It comes after a recent study claimed that babies born at weekends in England were more likely to die than those born on weekdays, as the row over seven-day working within the NHS continues.

Aberdeen University experts undertook the analysis in light of the UK Government’s Keogh report, which claimed mortality for adult patients was higher after a weekend admission.

The study suggests paediatric care in Scotland may be better at weekends with 7.8 per cent of patients admitted in the week needed readmission but only 7.3 per cent of those admitted at weekends had to come back.

Lead author Dr Steve Turner, a senior lecturer at Aberdeen University and a member of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: “There are increasing pressures on hospital services but relatively little is known about the numbers of paediatric admissions.

“This study aimed to help plug this gap in knowledge and help us identify how any increase in demand on paediatric services might be managed in future.

“Although the numbers are mercifully small, our research shows there were no more deaths over weekends than during week days. Our results also suggest extrapolating evidence from adult care to the paediatric setting is not always accurate.”

The study, which uses data from more than half a million admissions, also found Monday was the busiest day of the week with 16 per cent of admissions, while Saturday was the quietest with 12 per cent.

Children admitted on Friday were most likely to be discharged on the same day while Sunday admissions were least likely.