In 2013 NHS England proposed that the NHS should provide seven-day access to routine services. This suggestion was part of the Five Year Forward View plan for the NHS (2015 to 2020). Many health workers have been infuriated at the suggestion that they are not already at work seven days a week.
NHS England set up the
NHS Services, Seven Days a Week Forum to identify how a 7-day service could be achieved without increasing the overall cost of health care. They suggested reducing pay for staff, and reconfiguring services.
A number of prominent academics, including Professor Stephen Hawking wrote to the Prime Minister calling for an inquiry. They accused the government of misrepresenting evidence, ignoring the findings of robust peer -reviewed studies, and selecting the findings from weaker research that help him make the case for a so called
weekend effect in which the government claimed that 11,000 deaths a year are caused by a lack of the right staff on duty at weekends.
The primary reason the government and NHS England called for a
7-Day NHS - to be implemented by 2020 - was a desire to reduce pay and conditions, which is a key factor in privatising services. As a practical suggestion it was widely criticized and doomed to failure as more resources delivered at a weekend simply means fewer resources at other times, and remember that at the same time the NHS budget is being cut. So the call for a
7-Day NHS primarily served as a justification for the imposition of the Junior Doctors Contract .