Hospitals with more doctors and nurses have lower deaths rates, a study has found.

A research team at St George’s University explored the death rates after emergency abdominal surgery at 156 NHS Trusts between 2005 and 2010.

Just 12,000 patients died 30 days after having emergency abdominal surgery, which is a relatively small number.

However, there was a startling link between the number of staff and mortality rates, with fewer staff leading to a greater number of deaths.

In fact, hospitals with the least staff had death rates 7% higher than those with the most staff.

There was also a clear connection between weekend admission and death rates, with an 11% rise in deaths at weekends compared to weekdays.

This follows on from two recent studies published in the British Medical Journal which concluded hospital patients and newborn babies are more likely to die when admitted or born at the weekend.

The research carried out by St George’s University verifies that weekend staffing levels – which are lower than normal – are a contributing factor to the so-called ‘weekend effect’.

Commenting on the findings, lead researcher Dr Peter Holt, said: “We need to ensure the whole system is safe seven days a week.”

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