Private health care - Weekend hospital patients at greater risk of death
Medical insurance customers visiting hospitals at the weekend are at a greater risk of death than those who are treated during the week, according to healthcare research firm Dr Foster.
The company claims that there are ten per cent more deaths on Saturday and Sunday when compared to weekdays.
Dr Foster's research looked at treatment and mortality figures across 147 NHS trusts and found that weekend staffing could be to blame for the increased risk.
Roger Taylor, director of research at the firm, said over the weekend there was often a shortage of senior staff members.
"It's about having the more experienced staff in the hospital, looking after patients out of normal working hours," he told the BBC.
Adding: "The junior doctors, they're always around, but they're not the ones making a difference here."
He noted that GPs and ambulance crews would have to improve their working relationship to ensure that care was consistent around the clock.
Reduced access to diagnostic tools was also seen as a major factor affecting mortality rates in hospitals over the weekend.
However, the Quality Care Commission told the news provider that the research - which gave a headline rate of weekend mortality of 8.1 per cent compared to a weekday rate of 7.4 per cent - was too simplistic to draw the conclusion that hospital treatment on Saturday and Sunday was "risky".
Recently, Dr Foster published a list of NHS trusts of the year, which included the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, the University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.