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28 November 2015, 05:00
There is no evidence that children are more likely to die after being admitted to hospital at the weekend compared with weekdays, according to new research.
It suggests that paediatric care in Scotland may in fact be better at weekends than Monday to Friday.
The findings are based on analysis of more than 500,000 admissions of patients aged up to 16 who were admitted to Scottish hospitals between January 2000 and December 2013.
The research found there were 251 deaths between Monday and Friday and 84 on the weekend.
It emerged that 7.8% of patients admitted between Monday and Friday needed readmission but only 7.3% of those admitted at weekends had to come back.
The busiest day of the week was Monday, with 16% of admissions, and the quietest was Saturday, with 12% of all admissions.
Children admitted on Friday were most likely and Sunday admissions were least likely to be discharged on the same day as admitted.
There was a 20% increase in admissions with conditions requiring intensive or high-dependency care at weekends compared to weekdays.
This reflects a smaller total number of children being admitted at the weekend, but the same number of children with very serious conditions being admitted seven days a week.
Lead author Dr Steve Turner, a member of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: "There are increasing pressures on hospital services but relatively little is known about the numbers of paediatric admissions.
"This study aimed to help plug this gap in knowledge and help us identify how any increase in demand on paediatric services might be managed in future.
"Although the numbers are mercifully small, our research shows there were no more deaths over weekends than during weekdays.
"Our results also suggest that extrapolating evidence from adult care to the paediatric setting is not always accurate.''
He added: "There is always room for improvement in healthcare for children.
"To make these improvements we need to get a better idea of quality of care in hospitals and better understand what happens to children within the healthcare system before and after a hospital admission.''