No evidence of ‘weekend effect’ in psychiatric units

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Mental health patients admitted to hospital at the weekend are no more likely to die than those who arrive on a weekday, according to a new study.  

The findings challenge Jeremy Hunt’s claims that patients admitted at the weekend are at greater risk of dying.

The Health Secretary has said as many as 11,000 patients die avoidably every year as a result of the ‘weekend effect’.

The study investigated 45,264 people admitted for inpatient care for serious mental health problems by the South London and Maudsley (SlaM) NHS trust between 2006 and 2015. It found that most patients (17.4%) died on Wednesdays and the fewest (10.7%) died on Saturdays.

Published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, the study states: ‘Our findings suggest that patients admitted to a psychiatric hospital at the weekend are not at greater risk of inpatient mortality compared with patients admitted during the working week.’

Dr Rashmi Patel, the SlaM psychiatrist and academic at King’s College London who led the research, said: ‘One of the problems with the way the “weekend effect” has been portrayed is that the Secretary of State has selectively chosen to present a few studies which suggest differences in mortality associated with weekend admission and he has ignored others – like our own study – which ha...