Hospitals will be given a share in extra funding for the NHS if they draw up “credible” plans to ensure services run as safely at weekends, the Health Secretary has announced.
Jeremy Hunt announced the plans as a study found emergency patients are 11 per cent more likely to die if they are admitted to hospitals on Saturdays and Sundays.
The research – the first to specifically link higher death rates to lower staffing numbers – follows warnings from previous studies which linked “the weekend effect” to an excess 11,000 deaths a year.
Last month the Chancellor announced plans to boost NHS funding by an extra £10bn a year by 2020.
The NHS is facing the worst financial crisis in its history, with a £2.2bn deficit expected by March, and fears that extra money could end up simply soaking up the debts.
Mr Hunt said the new fund would target new money at trusts which had clear plans to turn around financial problems, and to boost the level of service offered seven days a week.
Some of the funds will go to supporting Accident and Emergency services, which are struggling to cope with unprecedented demand.
Mr Hunt said: "This government is committed to the values of the NHS, which is why we're investing £10bn in its own plan for the future - including £6bn upfront by next year.