David Cameron is right, we need a ‘seven-day’ NHS

avid Cameron meets patient Ursula Chambers during a visit to Royal Derby Hospital (PA)

I used to be a hospital chaplain. I know that was back in the day, and my knowledge of the National Health Service may be completely out of date, but, this is what I discovered, and it may be of interest.

If you visit a hospital during the week, it is a hive of activity. But if you visit at weekends, especially on Bank Holiday weekends, it is a very quiet place. On the latter, from Friday afternoon until Tuesday morning, nothing happens, or at least nothing much. Medical procedures cease, and the place turns into a hotel for the unwell. At least that was what I found, and it seems that the Prime Minister agrees with me, for he is promising to give us a 24-hour NHS, which, one hopes, will also be a seven-day a week one.

Consider the following examples. Budget airlines make their planes work for them, using them to the maximum, with a 25-minute turn around time. In Turkey, each school building is home to two schools, one that functions in the first half of the day, and the other in the second, ensuring that maximum use is made of the building. In Italy, operating theatres work round the clock, 24 hours a day. Which leads me to ask: why can’t doctors’ surgeries and hospitals in our country work 24/7/52 and make full use of their premises?

Incidentally, where I live, it is almost impossible to get a doctor’s appointment. If the surgery were open seven days a week, this would help, I am sure. The supermarket down the road is open seven days a week, and if they can do it, why can’t doctors work shifts? After all, people get ill seven days a week, and thus it makes perfect sense for those who care for the sick to work seven days a week too.