An exclusive BMG Research poll, commissioned by the Evening Standard, reveals that over half of the British public say they are more concerned if they or a member of their family were admitted to hospital at the weekend.

The Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has previously claimed that understaffing of hospitals at weekends may cause the death of up to 11,000 patients a year. Public Health England has estimated that “excess in-hospital deaths associated with admission on a Saturday or Sunday compared to Wednesday is just below 6,000“.

However, the NHS’s medical director, Prof. Sir Bruce Keogh has reiterated his view that it is not possible to say for sure how many patients die avoidably as a result of the so-called “weekend-effect”, which he and other experts have found.

Subsequently, BMG has asked the British public, in light of the figures, whether they would be concerned if they, or another member of their family, were admitted to hospital at a weekend.

The results revealed 53% are more concerned if they or a member of their family are admitted to hospital at the weekend; 32% said they would be no more concerned and 15% don’t know.

A closer look at the data reveals concern increased most among elderly people, with 62% of over-65s saying they felt more concerned.

Our Research Director, Dr Michael Turner, has said “These results are a clear reflection of heightened tensions. Whether the so-called “weekend effect” is actually a reflection of junior doctor staffing levels or it is simply that patients tend to be sicker at the weekends, remains to be seen, but the issue has clearly struck a chord with most.

Healthcare & the NHS are salient issues in the UK, consistently polling as one of the most important concerns for people today. So it is perhaps unsurprising that patients feel worried when they are told there may be “excess deaths” in hospitals at weekends.

However, though they remain one of the most highly regarded professions of the day, and there is currently popular support for those striking; doctors will know that trust is also a key part of the doctor-patient relationship. If they are seen to use it too much as a bargaining tool, it might begin to fracture.”

An article based on these polling results, released by the Evening Standard, can be found here.

Data tables containing a breakdown of the results can be found here.

For further details about this poll, and any other results from our polling series, please feel free to get in touch by email or phone.


Lauren Harris – Research Executive


0121 333 6006

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