The English National Health Service is moving towards providing comprehensive 7-day hospital services in response to higher death rates for emergency weekend admissions. Using Hospital Episode Statistics between 1st April 2010 and 31st March 2011 linked to all-cause mortality within 30 days of admission, we estimate the number of excess deaths and the loss in quality-adjusted life years associated with emergency weekend admissions. The crude 30-day mortality rate was 3.70% for weekday admissions and 4.05% for weekend admissions. The excess weekend death rate equates to 4355 (risk adjusted 5353) additional deaths each year. The health gain of avoiding these deaths would be 29 727-36 539 quality-adjusted life years per year. The estimated cost of implementing 7-day services is £1.07-£1.43 bn, which exceeds by £339-£831 m the maximum spend based on the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence threshold of £595 m-£731 m. There is as yet no clear evidence that 7-day services will reduce weekend deaths or can be achieved without increasing weekday deaths. The planned cost of implementing 7-day services greatly exceeds the maximum amount that the National Health Service should spend on eradicating the weekend effect based on current evidence. Policy makers and service providers should focus on identifying specific service extensions for which cost-effectiveness can be demonstrated.
Keywords: cost-effectiveness; hospital organisation; mortality; weekend.
Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.