Protocol for the health economic evaluation of increasing the weekend specialist to patient ratio in hospitals in England

Published: 17 April 2018
Author(s) Samuel Watson, Yen-Fu Chen, Julian Bion, Cassie Aldridge, Alan Girling, Richard Lilford, HiSLAC Collaboration

  • This protocol concerns the evaluation of increased specialist staffing at weekends in hospitals in England. Seven-day health services are a key policy for the UK government and other health systems trying to improve use of infrastructure and resources. A particular motivation for the 7-day policy has been the observed increase in the risk of death associated with weekend admission, which has been attributed to fewer hospital specialists being available at weekends. However, the causes of the weekend effect have not been adequately characterised; many of the excess deaths associated with the ‘weekend effect’ may not be preventable, and the presumed benefits of improved specialist cover might be offset by the cost of implementation.

Two-epoch cross-sectional case record review protocol comparing quality of care of hospital emergency admissions at weekends versus weekdays

Published: 08 January 2018
Author(s) Bion J, Aldridge C, Girling A, Rudge G, Beet C, HiSLAC Collaboration

  • The mortality associated with weekend admission to hospital (the ‘weekend effect’) has for many years been attributed to deficiencies in quality of hospital care, often assumed to be due to suboptimal senior medical staffing at weekends. This protocol describes a case note review to determine whether there are differences in care quality for emergency admissions (EAs) to hospital at weekends compared with weekdays, and whether the difference has reduced over time as health policies have changed to promote 7-day services.

A protocol for a team-based ethnography of weekend care for medical patients in acute hospital settings

Published: 15 March 2017
Author(s) Tarrant C, Sutton E, Angell E, Aldridge C, Boyal A, Bion J, HiSLAC Collaboration

  • It is now well-recognised that patients admitted to hospital at weekends are at higher risk of death than those admitted during weekdays. However, the cause(s) of this ‘weekend effect’ are poorly understood. Some contend that there is a deficit of medical staff at weekends resulting in poorer quality care, while others find that patients admitted to hospital at weekends are sicker and therefore at higher risk of adverse outcomes. Clarifying the causal pathway is clearly important in order to identify effective solutions. In this article we describe an ethnographic approach to evaluating the organisation and delivery of medical care at weekends compared with weekdays, with a specific focus on the role of medical staff as part of NHS England’s plan to implement seven-day services.

The magnitude and mechanisms of the weekend effect in hospital admissions: A protocol for a mixed methods review incorporating a systematic review and framework synthesis

Published: 23 May 2016
Author(s) Chen, Boyal et al; HiSLAC Collaboration

  • Growing literature has demonstrated that patients admitted to hospital during weekends tend to have less favourable outcomes, including increased mortality, compared with similar patients admitted during weekdays. Major policy interventions such as the 7-day services programme in the UK NHS have been initiated to reduce this weekend effect, although the mechanisms behind the effect are unclear. Here, we propose a mixed methods review to systematically examine the literature surrounding the magnitude and mechanisms of the weekend effect.

Weekend specialist intensity and admission mortality in acute hospital Trusts in England: a cross-sectional study

Published: 11 May 2016
Author(s) Aldridge, Bion et al; HiSLAC Collaboration

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