Marc Roberts writes about the kind of challenges one can anticipate by moving over to seven day services and why these challenges are essential

As our exclusive survey with HSJ shows, there is much debate on the benefits, scope and feasibility of true seven day services in the NHS. Yet as the report also reveals, many imaging departments across the NHS are already routinely working extended days and providing imaging services over the weekend.

Few, however, have been able to do so with extended hours (including weekend) support from their imaging equipment service provider – at least not without a premium charge for such extended hours service.

In the event of equipment malfunction, this could result in delayed response and repair times ultimately impacting on patient workflow and time to diagnose.

In April 2014, Siemens started providing extended, seven day services in diagnostic imaging as routine to its customers in Great Britain at no additional charge. We also extended our technical support, maintenance and repair services for diagnostic imaging to run from 8am to 8pm, Monday to Sunday, again with no incremental charge to our contract customers.

Our customer feedback tells us that we are satisfying a growing need and helping them to meet their demanding targets in a positive, proactive way

We made this move in response to strengthening signals from our customers, and taking account of the direction of travel towards seven day services in the NHS (as cited in the 2013 NHS Improving Quality report NHS services – open seven days a week: every day counts).

What we now see is a steadily increasing trend in customers taking advantage of our extended service coverage period with a consequent increase in both planned and reactive maintenance work being carried out at weekends.

Our customer feedback tells us that we are satisfying a growing need and helping them to meet their demanding targets in a positive, proactive way. It also meets our desire to ensure customers are able to fully exploit their imaging assets.

We are able to remotely monitor scanner utilisation to help our customers optimise efficient usage.

As this survey makes clear, moving to seven day services will not be without its challenges – most notably complex staffing and cost challenges. However, we anticipate the direction of travel to continue towards extended hours services, driven in part by patient demand.

For it to be possible, we feel healthcare equipment suppliers have a crucial role to play. That is why we extended our service coverage at no additional cost, so we can be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

Marc Roberts is director of services, Siemens Healthineers

Survey: who really wants to see a seven-day clinical service?