A LEADING Southampton consultant has reassured patients following research that showed those who undergo surgery at the weekend are more likely to die.

Tim Underwood, an oesophageal and gastric cancer surgeon at Southampton General Hospital, has told the Daily Echo that he “knows for certain” that outcomes in his department are the same whatever day of the week patients are operated on.

His reassurance comes after researchers looked at death rates for more than four million elective procedures across the country and found patients who undergo operations at the weekend are up to 82 per cent more likelytodie thanthose who go under the knife during weekdays.

The study by Imperial CollegeLondonlookedat elective procedures with at least one night spent in hospital in NHS hospitals in England between 2008 and 2011.

In total 27,500 patients died within 30 days of surgery, the risk lowest for those having it onMonday and rising oneach subsequent day of the week.

ButMr Underwood said that patients have “absolutely” no reason to start cancelling operations on a Friday and that over the past five years the city’s hospital trust has been developing 24/7 care for 365 days of the year.

He said: “We operate on a Monday, Tuesday and Friday and I know for certain the outcomes on a Friday are no worse, and in some years are better, than Monday and Tuesday.

“We do not see a difference within our unit that is described.I am confidentthat the care we provide on the weekend is as good as that provided during the week.”

Some of the reasons for this in Southampton include the availability of intensive care treatment, interventional radiology, physiotherapy and consultants across the whole week, including weekends.

He added: “University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust is at the forefront of delivering 24- hour care, 365 days a year.

“We have realised that to do complex operations and take patients from around the south coast, we need to provide services across the week, including the weekends.

“We can do it because we are a big place, whereas some of the smaller hospitals may not be able to provide as many consultants as they need to.

“It’s not just about having the consultants though, it’s about having a whole mixture of people available to provide care and on my unit we have the same ratio of nurses across the week, as well as radiologists, physiotherapists and those in intensive care.