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Just one piece of the puzzle

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The NHS should be seen as a whole The NHS should be seen as a whole

In a speech on 16 July at the King's Fund, health secretary Jeremy Hunt announced his intention to impose seven-day working on hospital consultants in September, should negotiations with the BMA fail.

A raft of announcements around patient safety, and change from the bottom up were hospital focused, but hospitals do not comprise the entire NHS. Extending hospital services to seven days a week and changing the doctors' contract will not fix mortality rates related to weekends. At least some of the higher mortality rates attached to weekend admissions are due to too few services in the community supporting the vulnerable and seriously ill, leading them to A&E and a greater likelihood of admission and death.

Fixing one part of a system doesn't work unless everything else is in perfect alignment. And I don't think anyone thinks the NHS is.

Mr Hunt should look at the whole NHS system and propose solutions that address the weaknesses, whether they lie in primary or secondary care.

Instead, for primary care he chose to focus on patient choice of services based on CQC and other results, and greater choice of GP practice. NHS England, he said, will be required to provide better alternatives in areas where a practice is 'failing'.

This sounds good for patients and health equality, but how will this be achieved when there aren't enough nurses and doctors to adequately staff existing primary care services?

His go-to response to problems in primary care is the figure of 5000 more GPs. When will the government suggest a plan that takes account of the whole workforce and is not based solely on unrealistic recruitment targets?

What do you think? Leave a comment below or tweet your views to @IndyNurseMag

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I think the only difference having a consultant on at weekends will make is on the wages bill. Why not start to recognise the role of expert nurses more by paying them a band 8 and stop weighing them down with management duties. Leave them with patients, give them respect, and get some staff to support them in Xray and pathology over the weekends. That's where the deficit really is!
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