PLANS to instruct hospitals to make senior staff and vital tests available seven days a week are “long overdue”, according to a top Worcestershire health watchdog.

Peter Pinfield, chairman of Healthwatch Worcestershire, says the current NHS can sometimes be a “dangerous”

place to be for patients who suffer health problems at the weekend.

“I have been involved in health and social care over a number of years and we have known for some time that generally speaking, if you have some problems over the weekend and have to go into the health service it is possible not to have the same degree of service,” he said.

Research into more than 14 million admissions nationwide suggests the increased risk of death in hospitals at the weekend could be as high as 11 per cent on a Saturday and 16 per cent on a Sunday.

NHS medical director Sir Bruce Keogh recently unveiled plans to ensure experienced seven-day cover and combat a lack of resources and expertise at weekends.

It is anticipated that increasing their services will cost hospitals between 1.5 to two per cent of their annual running costs, but Sir Bruce believes money can be found from other parts of the NHS to pay for the plans.

Mr Pinfield believes the cost is more than worthwhile.

“It will cost money but you cannot put a price on a person’s life,” he said.

He said the current arrangement was “dangerous and unacceptable”.