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Patients admitted to NHS major trauma centres at the weekend have near identical outcomes to those admitted during the week, according to a new study of more than 49,000 patients published in the Emergency Medicine Journal.

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NHS major trauma services in England show no signs of a ‘weekend effect’, Oxford University-led research has found.

Using data from all 22 major trauma centres (MTCs) in England, a team from Oxford, Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield and Harvard universities looked for evidence that people who arrived at hospital on Saturday or Sunday had worse outcomes than those admitted on a weekday.

Lead researcher, Oxford University’s Dr David Metcalfe, said: “Earlier studies raised the possibility that patients have worse outcomes when admitted to NHS hospitals at weekends.

'We wanted to know whether this is true for severely injured patients taken to specialist hospitals that have been configured to provide a similar level of service for injured patients on every day of the week.

'Severely injured patients in MTCs have access to on-site consultants, specialists, and supporting services like CT scanners and operating theatres at all times.'
The study, published in the Emergency Medicine Journal, used the comprehensive national database operated by the Trauma Audit and Research Network (TARN), which receives data from all 22 MTCs. It collects data on all patients with a severe injury who are admitted for at least three days or die after arriving at hospital.

The team found no differences in the proportion of patients that died or made a good recovery based on the day on which they arrived at hospital. Although the length of hospital stay for patients admitted on a weekday or a weekend during daytime was the same, those arriving at night on the weekend night had a slightly shorter length of stay.

Dr Metcalfe added: 'The TARN database is specifically designed to collect outcome data for severely injured patients and so we can be confident that there is no weekend effect in this area. This is clearly good news for patients.'

The paper, Is there a 'weekend effect' in major trauma?, is published in the Emergency Medicine Journal.

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Original paper Is there a 'weekend effect' in major trauma? is published in the Emergency Medicine Journal.