Poorly performing hospitals may be offered financial incentives to enhance staff levels under Government proposals. Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary, wants to provide cash incentives to hospitals that employ a greater number of staff at weekends and hence reduce the pressure on junior doctors. Recent statistics have revealed that mortality rates are greater during out-of-hours treatment amongst certain NHS trusts. Research released in November revealed that patients receiving treatment during the weekend were at a ten per cent greater chance of dying than if they were treated during the week. A spokesperson for the NHS claimed that over 500 lives could be saved on an annual basis if the weekend mortality rate matched that during the working week, according to a leading newspaper. In addition to cash rewards, it has been proposed that poor-performing hospitals could be forced to improve in the event that medical records were analysed in a more transparent manner.
Mr. Lansley maintained that there was a tendency for junior doctors to staff wards of a weekend in the absence of consultants. Mr. Lansley told of how junior doctors should always be properly supervised while working on the wards. He added that by opening specific services throughout the week and during weekends, a greater number of patients would receive the care that they required. Mr. Lansley claimed that the Government was working to encourage progress throughout the NHS.
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