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Page last updated at 08:29 GMT, Thursday, 29 September 2011 09:29 UK

NHS emergency patients 'put at risk'

Leading surgeons say thousands of people needing emergency surgery are having their lives put at risk by poor NHS care.

The Royal College of Surgeons claims patients have to wait too long for treatment and often are not given the right care afterwards. Figures show people having emergency surgery, which is usually on the abdomen, are up to four times more likely to die in the UK than in the United States.

The report says less-experienced junior staff are often left to deal with complex, dangerous cases.

Dr Tom Dolphin, the chairman of the British Medical Association's junior doctors committee, says the health service needs to move towards 24/7 consultant-led care.

"Things are improving, but you've still got junior doctors being left relatively unsupervised and we have to move over time to a consultant-delivered service, where you have consultant input around the clock, so you have a consultant being the made doctor reviewing patients and making the decisions and that includes out of hours, overnight and weekends and so on," he told Today presenter Sarah Montague.

And Jo Webber, deputy director of policy at the NHS Confederation, which represents NHS managers, agreed that more needs to be done to ensure care is tailored to the needs of the patient.

"This is about the whole of a local system. It's about managers and clinicians working very closely together. It's also about making sure that all the elements of the system in a local area work.

"So it's about getting patients to the right places at the right time, making sure that all the facilities work together in the way that they should, making sure we have 24-hour consultant cover, things that actually we just need to make sure that all of that co-ordination is there."

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